Numbers shed good economic news for southwest Louisiana

Local economy

CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC) - While places across the country seem to still be struggling economically, Calcasieu Parish isn't one of those areas. In fact the economy here is flourishing.

Good news for both southwest Louisiana businesses and consumers in today's struggling nation: the economy in our area is on an upward climb. In fact experts say it's actually going to get better.

"I think that we're looking at the beginning of what could be a very significant economic expansion, boom if you want to use that word," said Dr. Michael Kurth, professor of Economics at McNeese State University. 

A boom, something that seems hard to believe after the recent tough times in America. But even during those times, the economy in southwest Louisiana didn't collapse.

"We really never have felt the effects of the so called national recession," said Calcasieu Parish Sales Tax Director Rufus Fruge. "We've been, I can't say it any other way, but we've been blessed."

"We are so blessed in the Lake Charles area to have our economy," said car dealership owner Billy Navarre. 

The recent numbers show an increase in food sales, that's grocery stores and restaurants. Fruge says that's because no matter what, people must eat. Also up:manufacturing. That includes the chemical plants.

"This is the cheapest place in the world right now to produce chemicals and petrochemicals," said Dr. Kurth. 

In fact that category sky rocketed recently. Experts say because the plants are now spending more money than before. They also say manufacturing and the entire economy will continue to improve.

"I just think that we haven't reached our pinnacle yet," said Fruge.

"What's going to happen is as this boom unfolds, if that in fact is the case, is that the green line is going to continue to go up and as that green line goes up, it's going to pull the other sectors up with it," said Dr. Kurth.  

Dr. Kurth says that already seems to  be happening. He says evidence lies in the automobile industry. Car sales are up, and the dealerships agree.

"Our area, we've been so blessed," said Navarre. "We went through a down time with the banking crisis, but our business never got like it was in Florida and Phoenix, but here, last month, for example, our business was just unbelievable."

People across the state don't seem to be convinced that Louisiana is doing well economically. But Fruge says it's true, especially locally.

"The governor keeps saying we've got a great economy and so forth and people are saying I don't see it," said Fruge. "Here in Calcasieu Parish, we're seeing it."    

The only numbers that are slightly down deal with building construction.

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