Go Group plans for Economic Boom - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Go Group plans for Economic Boom

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When the gold rush hit in the 1800s, it meant big wealth for a few and tremendous suffering for many others who did not benefit.

Local community and business leaders want to make sure the economic boom coming to Lake Charles brings positive, lasting growth and opportunity.
When history is written about the upcoming economic boom in Southwest Louisiana, will it speak of a lasting legacy of prosperity or a time of chaos and difficulty? The Go Group (SWLA Task Force for Growth & Opportunity) is trying to make sure the area is prepared for the growth and opportunity expected-- and that the community can handle the load-- from infrastructure to housing.

$46.5 billion in capital investment is expected and Police Juror Hal McMillin says there will likely be even more.

"There is another entity out there that's looking at a $6 billion ethylene cracker that some of us know about.  Some of us say it's the worse kept secret in the parish.  I'm not going to name the company," said McMillin at the Better Business Bureau's B2B (Business to Business) breakfast.

The Go Group expects tens of thousands of construction jobs and faces many challenges ahead from traffic to housing. 

"It's an exciting time.  This isn't a negative thing, We're excited about this but we want to make sure we're ready for this.  But I can tell you we've got a golden group of people with our mayors and all our committees, the steering committee working together to be proactive to make sure we do this," said McMillin.

With workers come family members and they expect an estimated population increase of about 50,000 people though the numbers are not  definite.

David Conner, with the SWLA Alliance, is working on housing.  So far, he says they think about 20,000 "housing units" are needed.

"That's what's coming.  What we want to do, we want to get ahead of that.  We want to put this plan together to allow the developer, the local governments, to have good information so they can make good decisions on capital outlay . It's not just about the number of houses we need to build.  At some point, we need to know when to stop. Whether that's permanent houses, mobile homes, apartments, temporary housing, so forth and so on," said Conner.

They hope when they look back,  years from now, the community is better because of the growth and economic boom.

Officials say they need a paid director for the Go Group  to help coordinate the efforts of the various committees tackling issues such as education, transportation and so on.

No word yet who will fill that position.

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