The boom in the natural gas and energy industry in Southwest Louisiana will mean huge growth for the five-parish region over the next few years. With that growth comes the need for more workforce development, schools, housing, transportation and utility upgrades, public safety, small business development, and health and medical services.
The Southwest Louisiana Task Force for Growth and Opportunity (GO) Group formed in 2013 to plan for this unprecedented economic regional growth that includes $85 billion in domestic and foreign investment as well as more than 18,000 permanent jobs by 2017-2018. “There are many areas to study and address," says Karen Clapp, GO Group director. "For example, we anticipate 6,000 additional schoolchildren arriving by 2019. In addition, the need for housing will increase, including a need for temporary housing to accommodate the thousands of skilled construction workers who will travel to this region.” Clapp says several GO Group committees have formed to tackle the many issues. “One area of importance is for the five-parish governments (Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron and Jefferson Davis) to work in harmony and consolidation for the good of the entire region,” she says. “What’s good for Cameron parish will be good for Allen parish; what’s good for Beauregard will be good for Calcasieu and Jeff Davis, and so forth.”
To address workforce development needs for the future, Clapp says area students of all ages are now being often informed about the career opportunities available in Southwest Louisiana. As for developing more residential housing in the near future, many homes will be constructed within city limits to take advantage of water, sewers and roads already in place. “Temporary housing for about 14,000 construction workers is a key issue, and there are plans to develop maybe four employee villages with perhaps RVs and mobile homes,” Clapp says. “There are so many issues to address, and the GO Group is busy every day finding solutions. We have to be quick because the economic growth has already begun. Of the $85 billion in energy investment projects, about $32 billion in construction started in 2015.”