It seems that 2018 was yet another year of big gains for the Bossier community. Sharing the message of growth for Bossier is one that has become common place, nonetheless, it’s true that growth and progress are evident in a big way.
We can mark growth through population trends, and over the past fifteen years Bossier has shown continual growth in the number of residents in both the city and parish. The GBEDF partners with LED, the state economic development office, to forecast population projections and demographic information for Bossier City, Bossier Parish, and the surrounding areas of Haughton, Benton and Plain Dealing. The population trends are comparative to previous forecasts, as the data shows that over the next five years continued growth is on the horizon for nearly all cities and townships within the parish.
Population forecasts estimate an increase of 6.2% in Bossier Parish and a 5% increase for Bossier City. Combined, the city and parish can expect the potential to add over 11,000 new residents by 2023. Population predictions over the five-year time frame also point to continued growth in northern portions of the parish. Benton’s growth remains steady with a possible increase of 6.3% of new residents. The town of Haughton has the highest growth rate in Bossier Parish. Adding a potential 9.4% to their population in the next few years can potentially change the town status to city. While the Town of Plain Dealing’s population is set to remain the same. The city and town’s growth rates point to optimism and show a great opportunity for businesses to capitalize on an increase of residents throughout the parish.
The Bossier community did not only see gains in residents this year. Bossier continues to grow into a dynamic innovative economic driver for our entire region. Bossier welcomed 200 new jobs and $20 million in business expansion projects. Gains can be seen across every major industry sector that make up our local economic landscape.
Gaming is one cornerstone sector of our local economy that got a lot of attention and a boost of support from lawmakers during the 2018 legislative session. After nearly 25 years in existence, riverboat gaming laws were modernized in an effort to keep the gaming industry competitive. As a result, we can expect to see additional growth and investment within this sector, with more people looking to make video games, which already represents 6,000 jobs and is responsible for assisting the funding of teacher salaries, first responders, and the addition of iconic capital investment projects that bring in additional revenue through tourism and jobs.
The healthcare sector in Northwest Louisiana is considered a major economic driver in the region. Our MSA is home to top-rated healthcare centers, teaching and research institutions, and offers a high level of access to services for residents and those within the surrounding areas. Overall, our local healthcare sector employs over 35,000 with an average annual wage of $65,000. More notable healthcare investments in Bossier can be seen in the completion of the CHRISTUS Bossier Emergency Hospital and the opening of the area’s newest retirement system, The Blake. The construction of The Blake comes at a great time, as this year the Shreveport-Bossier City MSA was designated a Louisiana Certified Retirement Community by the Louisiana Office of Tourism.
Just as predicted, oil and gas production in Northwest Louisiana is seeing an upswing. The increased drilling activity is directly related to the LNG plants coming on line in the southern portion of the state, making the area’s shale gas easy to export. As a result of the increased drilling activity, interest from service companies within the industry is looking to do business in Bossier, bringing new jobs, and investment. Of course, more and more of the public are looking for investment opportunities lately and the oil industry is one of the opportunities that many are watching carefully. It’s believed that oil investments can provide long-term financial returns and can give tax breaks for the investor. That’s why the oil industry is so desirable currently, so Louisiana’s surplus of it may attract some investors. Investors might just want to head over to EnergyFunders beforehand to look at their investments and learn more about the oil industry and the investment opportunities within it.
Additionally, Bossier’s industrial parks have seen continual interest over the years, however, 2018 proved to be one of the most active years of development. New manufacturing and service companies have located within the parks, and some have expanded their services. Ten acres are currently under development in Commerce Industrial Park by Cassity Jones, a lumber and building supply company with a presence in the Dallas Fort/Worth metro area and East Texas. The company brings with it 44 additional jobs in Bossier.
The budding industries of cyber and IT continue to impact our local economic footprint in many ways. The new year brought news of CSRA being purchased by GDIT and had the local community concerned about the future of the nearly 1,100 jobs represented at the ITC. While GDIT’s commitment to the jobs at the Bossier ITC remains strong, the community is doing its part to invest in education partnerships that will support the future IT workforce. Higher education institutions are playing a big part in shaping the future of Bossier’s IT industry. Bossier Parish Community College (BPCC) and Louisiana Tech University serve as a great example of how strategic partnerships can benefit the community’s bottom line. With the opening of the STEM Building on the campus of BPCC, our region’s higher education institutions have increased access to opportunities for students pursuing IT degree pathways. There are also more online options for people wanting to get an IT degree – click here to find out more. By earning their degree through an online course, they reduce the cost of the degree and have more flexibility. On top of this, Bossier City is taking steps to support the advancement of the cyber industry in the community through the funding of the Louisiana Tech Research Institution building to be constructed in the National Cyber Research Park.
Bossier is noted as a community that invests in itself, and as a result, the city and surrounding areas benefit from the smart growth strategies. Bossier’s ongoing infrastructure upgrades not only help to ease resident’s day to day travel, it also helps to spur commercial development. These efforts can be seen through the construction of a portion of Innovation Drive and the opening of Holmes Honda this year. Continued commercial and retail development in the area is expected for the future. Bossier’s East Bank District is another way the city has invested in itself and we have only just begun to see a return on investment as the area continues to take shape. The East Bank District Plaza opened this year with the Bossier Arts Council serving as the events manager for the area. Future events planned such as festivals and markets in the plaza area will help to bring foot traffic to existing businesses in the East Bank District.
In addition to working with our partners throughout the year to bring new investment to Bossier, the Greater Bossier Economic Development Foundation (GBEDF) also invests in the community. Our local community investment in 2018 was nearly $110,000 and directly impacts the film industry, Barksdale Air Force Base, infrastructure, tourism, education and workforce development. As our region continues to change, the GBEDF leadership and our partners are working to create and support initiatives that will help to diversify our economy.