Economist: "Lake Charles could test Lafayette as fastest growing - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Economist: "Lake Charles could test Lafayette as fastest growing area"

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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

When it comes to the numbers, economist Dr. Loren Scott will tell you Southwest Louisiana has made leaps and bounds since the economic downturn.

"Southwest Louisiana really took it very hard. This was the worst hit area of the state in the recession," Scott said.

Scott's economic crystal ball predicts 5,000 new jobs in Southwest Louisiana over the next two years. He credits that to Ameristar's Casino and Resort and the unprecedented chemical expansions on the horizon.

"When we put this forecast together we did not fully take into account some very big projects that could come along for example Sasol will finish their feasibility studies on two plants at $14-billion worth of spending. It would be great for this area. Leucadia - we didn't have that fully built in. That's a $2.6-billion project," Scott said.  

Lake Charles is currently the third fastest growing area in the state and with a $28.1-billion construction potential, could surpass Lafayette when it comes to growth.

"And if some of these potential projects hit and we think some of them will hit then you are going to probably test Lafayette as the fastest growing area of the state. Lafayette is currently number one and Houma number two," Scott said.

The forecast confirms much of what area officials already knew and they're hoping for a trickle effect. 

"Hopefully, we can have that dove tail to have overall growth in the extended economy and hopefully, some of these folks coming here for jobs will love being here and stay," said Stuart Weatherford, Lake Charles City Councilman.

"Good times for retail. Good times for housing and construction. It's going to be super," said Phil Earhart, IBERIABANK's Southwest Louisiana President.

Scott also touched on the state outlook and said overall Louisiana looks good compared to most states but that the weak U.S. economy is holding us back.

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