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Tuesday, April 30, 2024

An Economic Resurgence


Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson addresses the citizens of Shreveport.

Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson brings his G-Unit Studios to Shreveport

Government Plaza in downtown Shreveport was the scene for a news conference on April 18 that was part block party, part pep rally and part church service.

The crowd gathered early, brimming with excitement to see the guest of honor, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson. A combined marching band from Huntington and Booker T. Washington high schools played some of 50 Cent’s songs. The mood was festive as the anticipation bubbled up. That energy was released in a thunderous roar from the crowd as Jackson and Shreveport dignitaries took the stage.

“50 Cent, welcome home,” City Council Chairman Alan Jackson Jr. shouted as the crowd voiced its full-throated support.

“50 Cent is definitely a spark,” Jackson said. “He has sparked this movement. But it is up to us to light the flame. Together, we can keep this fire going.”

The movement the councilman referred to is the establishment of G-Unit Studios in downtown Shreveport, in the city-owned building at 300 Douglas St., the former Millennium Studios. G-Unit is 50 Cent’s television and film production company.

The man of the hour enthusiastically returned the gratitude and assured the audience the deal was a good one.

“Thank you for welcoming me with open arms,” 50 Cent said. “Betting on me is not a gamble, it’s sure thing.”

The news conference also featured Mayor Tom Arceneaux’s first public presentation of a key to the city.

“That was fun,” Arceneaux said. “He intends to make a transformative impact on the city of Shreveport. I wanted to support that effort in a positive way, and I thought that was a way to do it. I don’t give them away very often. I thought it was important to let him know we are welcoming him for the things he is saying he is going to do. I believe he has the recourses to do them.”

The lease is a 30-year deal at an annual rate of $2,400. The city will no longer be responsible for upkeep and maintenance at the facility, saving the city nearly $180,000 a year.

Jackson said previously that he expects to see projects coming out of his Shreveport studio as early as July. The studio is expected to have a cascading effect on job creation, attracting talent to the area and contributing to the overall economic resurgence of Shreveport.

“Through the expansion of G-Unit Studios in Shreveport, my aim is to embody the spirit of conscious capitalism and focus on creating jobs, stimulating commerce and contributing to economic growth for this vibrant community,” 50 Cent said. “My vision is to make Shreveport a beacon in the entertainment industry, a place where creativity meets opportunity, where talent meets mentorship, and where amazing stories come to life to resonate globally.

“This feels great. It’s really exciting. I’d just like to say this, it’s an honor for me to stand before you today. As someone who has always believed in the transformative power of music, film and television, I am really excited to show you the expansion of G-Unit film and television through G-Unit Studios right here in Shreveport.”

In the days since the news conference, Arceneaux said he has heard a lot of positive feedback about the news.

“Most of the reaction I have seen has been very positive,” he said. “There are people who are still kind of taking a wait-and-see (approach), we’ve seen this kind of thing before, and is it really going to pan out? What’s different about this is that he isn’t coming with an idea that he hopes he will find funding for. He’s coming with the funds to do what he is setting out to do. And that’s a very significant difference from some other things that have happened in the past, whether it be a zoo or a golf course or something like that.”

Arceneaux said he has had preliminary talks with Jackson about the use of the former Stageworks facility on Clyde Fant Parkway in downtown Shreveport. Arceneaux said that Jackson has plans for boxing, mixed martial arts, three-on-three basketball and volleyball, among other events. But the mayor said it is too early to know how those plans will develop.

“We have had preliminary discussions,” Arceneaux said. “We still have a lot to work out.”

Arceneaux also said he is aware that Jackson is in private discussions about other opportunities in Shreveport.

“He is intending to come with some really big things,” the mayor said. “He’s gong to be putting his financial and gravitas reputation behind them. So he’s going to make sure they are successful.”

That is another way the deal benefits the city, Arceneaux said.

“Very little public investment going into what he’s doing,” he said. “He did not come to Shreveport with his hand out. He came to Shreveport with a proposal and his own money. He’s coming with private dollars to do what he intends to do. That’s very good news for the city.”


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