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Tuesday, April 18, 2023

More Good News

Putting buildings to use in the city

Shreveport Mayor Tom Arceneaux has tackled items ranging from budgets to baseball and from millages to movies in the early days of his administration.

“Most people seem to be pleased with what we are doing,” Arceneaux said. “Some of it is just dumb luck. I receive good luck as well as anyone else. Some of the groundwork was laid before I got here, and I am grateful for that. But we have done an awful lot of work on those things as well to take them from an idea stage to a possibility to a probability stage. That takes a lot of work and finagling, so that’s what we’ve been doing.”

The Arceneaux administration has seen many economic development projects arise in its early days, including a recent tour of the Amazon fulfillment center site.

The fulfillment center is expected to be a $200 million capital investment that will create about 1,000 new jobs in this area. The facility was scheduled to open in 2022 when it was initially announced, but delays have pushed the opening back to mid-2024 – a delay Arceneaux said he understands after seeing the facility.

“The Amazon visit was very cool,” he said. “That building is a giant, empty building that will be full of equipment. There are virtually no interior walls. It’s very meticulous, and it all has to be installed meticulously. What we witnessed is they are busy installing it. It makes it credible to me that they definitely have not crossed us off the list. They are going to come. But it is a very meticulous process. I see why it will take until mid-2024 for them to get open.”

The mayor was impressed with what he saw.

“I see a large expenditure of money that I do not believe I would see if they were going to cancel it,” he said. “I feel pretty comfortable that they are going to be opening. That there will be 1,000 goodpaying jobs with terrific benefits. So that will be a positive. It’s just not going to happen in 2023.”

Arceneaux also is celebrating “good news” about the former GM plant. On April 12, it was announced that ThyssenKrupp Supply Chain Services was leasing nearly 600,000 square feet of the property. The company is a leader in renewable energy logistics and is the largest mill-independent materials distributor and service provider in the Western world.

“I didn’t have anything to do with that, but I am certainly glad it happened,” he said. “It’s really good news for the city of Shreveport and for the area outside the city, because the GM plant is outside the city. So on the economic development front, things seem to be humming reasonably well for this early in a term.”

Arceneaux added that progress continues on other economic opportunities for the city. He said talks are progressing with rapper Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson to lease Millennium Studios in downtown Shreveport. The city bought that facility in 2022 for $3.8 million.

“He sent us a letter expressing his interest in making a very broad-based proposal,” Arceneaux said. “We responded with some of our ideas. They asked for some materials that we have provided. I think that is moving along.”

The city also has a request for proposals out to find a consultant to assist the city in evaluating REV Entertainment’s proposal to build a multiuse stadium and baseball to town. The consultant will help the city evaluate the feasibility and financing of the project. The deadline for the RFP is May 11.

“We hope to make a decision shortly after that and get right down the road with that,” he said.

Money Matters

The Arceneaux administration is making its final push for the reauthorization of six millages which amounts to about $12.5 million of the city’s annual budget. Those millages are on the ballot for voter approval on April 29.

“So far I have not seen any organized opposition to the renewals,” the mayor said. “People seem to be in favor. We just need them to go vote.”

Arceneaux has sent amendments to the city’s budget to the city council for approval. Those amendments include increasing the city’s budget for street projects by $9.5 million, an additional $500,000 for demolition of blighted properties, $500,000 for repairs and maintenance on street lighting and $500,000 for the city’s litter abatement program.

“Those reflect the priorities we had coming in,” he said.

Also on the council’s agenda for the April 25 meeting is the confirmation of Interim Chief Administrative Officer Tom Dark and Interim Finance Director Sherricka Fields to those positions permanently.

On the Road

Arceneaux is in Washington, D.C., this week, along with his counterparts from Ruston, Monroe and Vicksburg, Miss. They will meet with lawmakers and Amtrak to discuss a grant to establish depots in each of those cities

“We will be meeting with Amtrak,” he said, “hopefully to get Amtrak to join with us or us to join with Amtrak, because Amtrak has decided it wants to submit an application for the same money, and we would prefer not to be in competition.”


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