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Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2023

Aiding Small Businesses


Also, establishing priorites for bond proposals

Mayor Tom Arceneaux made a campaign promise to eliminate impediments keeping local small businesses from launching or expanding. He is taking steps to fulfill that promise with the formation of a Small Business Task Force.

The task force’s job is “to look at the way we do business in the city,” Arceneaux said. “The ways that we help businesses, the ways that we hinder businesses, and try to increase the help and decrease the hindrance.”

Dr. Tim Magner, president of the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce, will chair the committee.

In a formal letter to the task force members, Arceneaux said their charge is “to determine ways to improve doing business with and in the city of Shreveport, with particular emphasis on permitting and development, including land use entitlement (zoning).”

“They may deal with some of the provisions of the Unified Development Code that are Arceneaux added. “I am not suggesting there are. I am just saying there may be.”

The Small Business Task Force will be assisted by the Institute for Justice, a nonprofit, public-interest law firm.

“Because they have grants, they will be available to us free of charge,” Arceneaux said. “So we have a consultant to work with the committee that won’t cost us anything. It should be an efficient and interesting experience.”

The Institute for Justice recently completed a similar project with the city of Fort Worth in Texas.

“One of my campaign promises was to do this, and now I have fulfilled it,” the mayor said. “I am excited about that. It took me a little longer to put that together because of various interruptions than I really wanted it to.”

Investment Planning

The Citizens Capital Improvements Committee met for the first time last Thursday to begin the process of establishing projects across the city.

The 19-member committee, led by Larry Clark, retired LSUS chancellor, will “look over the priorities of the city, listen to our department heads and chief administrative officer and come up with a list of priorities and projects that they might recommend to the city council.”

The goal is to establish bond proposals to raise money for capital improvement projects. Those proposals would go before voters next April.

“The city has not made a significant investment in almost 10 years,” Arceneaux said. “It is very important that were continue investing in the infrastructure of our city so that we can progress and grow. I am in hopes that they will come up with some really good projects and be ambitious. It’s time for us to ambitious. It’s time to believe in ourselves and invest in our city.”

Arceneaux said the committee started with a clean slate.

“People have asked me, ‘What projects do you want?’” he said. “This is intended to be grassroots. I do have some opinions, and I will share some of those opinions with the committee. Our CAO has some definite ideas. But I didn’t want to start the conversation by saying, ‘This is what I want.’”

Arceneaux said Clark met with CAO Tom Dark before the first committee meeting to discuss the process, not specific projects. When the committee has completed its list of priorities for the city administration, Arceneaux and his team will put together the list of projects and the propositions to be presented to the Shreveport City Council. That work will need to be done by the end of this year to get the bond proposals on the ballot in April 2024.

“There’s a fairly tight timeframe here,” Arceneaux said. “So this is a short-term volunteer effort by these citizens, but a fairly time-intensive one.”

Fun and Games

Arceneaux said that in addition to the work of these committees, the city is working on next year’s budget. But it’s not all work and no play at Government Plaza.

The mayor is eager to see a variety of festivals and events in the area, including the Highland Jazz and Blues Festival, Red River Revel, Prize Fest and more.

“Fall is a really busy time, and I will be a really busy person, and I love it,” he said. “I try to attend as many functions as I can to which I am invited. It’s great to be a part of all of those things. I want to encourage every citizen to make as many of them as they can. The fall and the spring are really perfect times of the year for people in the Shreveport-Bossier area. Our weather gets better. It’s not too cold. It’s not too hot. It’s just a wonderful time to celebrate people and culture.”


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