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Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2023

Finally Blowing Past the COVID Impacts

Major job boosts expected in coming months

The Shreveport-Bossier MSA has enjoyed three straight years of employment growth, a trend we expect to continue and pick up speed over 2024-25. In the latest Louisiana Economic Forecast (LEF), we project 6,900 new jobs for the MSA over the next two years, a better-than-average 2% annual growth rate. Sometime this year, the MSA will have recovered all the 22,300 jobs lost from the COVID shutdown.

Major jobs boosts will come from (1) opening of the Amazon fulfillment center (+1,000 jobs) and (2) the new SLB facility at the old GM plant (+600 jobs). Several hundred jobs will reappear in the casino market when Live!Resort spends $250 million to move the old Diamond Jacks Casino onto land. More jobs will be coming to the National Cyber Research Park in Bossier City with the opening of the new Louisiana Tech Research Institute.

There are now 1,620 people working for the tenants at the Port of Caddo-Bossier, and those tenants will be spending almost $127 million on new capital projects, with more new jobs on the horizon. Dr. John George at BRF has been instrumental in reviving the proposed $1 billion+ Bia Energy project at the Port, which would seriously bump construction jobs if the project goes to final investment decision.

Regarding BRF, its Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program aids budding new firms in their startup years. The Chasing Aces Golf Course is one such entity. This $22.5 million golf course/entertainment development planned for late 2024 or early 2025 will create 100 new jobs. BRF projects that 203 new jobs will be created in northwest Louisiana through its activities.

Significant new LNG export capacity is being built along the southern coast of Louisiana and southeast Texas. Those plants will need natural gas; the closest source is the Haynesville Shale in northwest Louisiana. We expect the rig count in this play to jump from the low 20s to the mid-to-upper 40s to meet this new demand. One harbinger of this expected new growth is the number of pipelines under construction to move this gas from the Haynesville to the coast.

A reversal of fortunes is expected at the area’s largest employer – Barksdale AFB. After several years of employment declines, a $210 million weapons generation facility is under construction at the base. Almost $47 million is being spent on a new gate into the area where the new weapons facility will be located, and $70-$90 million is being spent on a new I-10/I-220 interchange. In addition to these three large projects, the 2023 Defense Authorization Act funded $16 million in projects at the base for a new dormitory, a new child development center and an expansion of the 307th Bomb Wing medical facility.

This region was a big winner this year in transportation funding. Some $361 million will be spent to replace the Jimmy Davis Bridge, and the region was awarded $363.6 million in state road lettings (up from $120.4 million last year).

This is a nice list of good news for the region without any significant plant closings or layoffs. The MSA is poised for a good ride over 2024-25 despite the expectation of a very short and shallow national recession.

To order a copy of the 170-page Louisiana Economic Forecast, go to www.lorencscottassociates.com


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