Workforce development meeting focuses on opportunities for small and minority based companies


Local industries, government officials and educational institutions describe the future of Southwest Louisiana as “building an airplane as we fly it” at the Lake Charles Energy Workforce Development and Supplier Diversity Strategy meeting held at SOWELA. The two forum meeting included a 3 hour session focusing on how to get small and minority owned businesses involved in the expected economic surge.

“We want to include everyone,” said Lake Charles city assistant administrator Eligha Guillory Jr. “It’s a lot of dollars going out, it’s a lot of projects going out and we want to make sure that everyone is at the table.

Angela Washington, a business development specialist with the U.S. Department of Commerce, was one of the attendees and says small and minority owned business simply need guidance and access to the right information to get involved.

“These companies are trying to find information on these projects and when they will happen,” said Washington. “What’s the value of the projects? What type of certifications will be necessary and how they can benefit from pursuing these particular opportunities.”

Washington says most of the minority-based companies that could be in high demand are labor focused such as construction, welding, plumbing and other technical trades, but are the companies facilitating the big dollar projects open to new partnerships?

“They seem very receptive to want to understand how to best work with minority business communities,” said Washington. “I think it’s very promising. It’s just a matter of really knowing how to access the information, how to engage the companies and being prepared when that time comes.”

Guillory says he wants to remind small and minority based companies that their involvement in the economic growth is a top priority.

“This is serious,” said Guillory. “This is major. We want to communicate to everyone that this is not just a dog and pony show. This is serious and we have projects coming. We all want to take part and we all want to be a part of it.”

The forum also featured speaker LaDoris “Dot” Harris with the U.S. Department of Energy. She says Southwest Louisiana, and Lake Charles in particular, are poised for substantial growth regarding energy opportunities.

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