When it comes to economic expansion, there’s one corner in the state of Louisiana that is defying the financial turmoil facing the rest of the country. This region is in the early stages of what is predicted to be the most prosperous era in Southwest Louisiana’s industrial history — and Cameron Parish is leading the way.
In full operation for two months, the Alliance for Positive Growth (APG) is gaining members from all sectors of the Southwest Louisiana business community at a rapid pace, growing from a founding group of eight members to over 50 since its launch meeting in mid-January.
Mayor Randy Roach, after 16 successful years at the helm of the City of Lake Charles, is about to pass the leadership baton. This election, specifically the mayoral election, is pivotal in order for our region to continue the positive growth and direction exemplified by Mayor Roach. Key to electing the most qualified candidate is voter turnout. And we want you, as the voters, to be well-informed so you can make a knowledgeable decision. Our Election Preview summarizes each candidate’s’ platform and qualifications. Every candidate in the running was asked to submit their information to us for inclusion.
Lake Charles Television, LLC recently announced that Lake Charles is now home to the first CBS Television Network affiliate in the market. Broadcasting began on Wednesday, February 15, 2017. Viewers can watch "CBS Lake Charles” over the air on Channel 17, broadcasting in full 1080i High Definition, and soon to be available on DISH, DirecTV and cable provider Suddenlink. Previously, the fast-growing community of Lake Charles has been served by the outside markets of Lafayette and Beaumont.
One of the biggest winners in this industrial boom will be the region’s small business owners. George Swift, president and CEO, Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, said the region’s estimated $115 billion in new projects will be a boon to small businesses throughout Southwest Louisiana, as the Lake Area’s population is expected to grow considerably in the years ahead.
Getting your finances in order is now only a tap away thanks to several new apps for smartphones.
Meet the Smith family. Both parents work, and they make good money. From the outside, life looks good—a new Tahoe, a big house, and private schools for the kids. But, in reality, the Smiths are barely scraping by. With the help of credit cards and car loans, they spend more money than they make, and they’re just one financial emergency away from being in serious trouble.
Then there’s the Williams family. One parent works, and makes decent money, while the other stays at home and takes care of the kids. The Williams family lives on a tight budget—and even though they still have a lot of student loan debt, they’ve cut the balance in half during the last two years. They have a small emergency fund saved and expect to be out of debt completely in two more years.
So what is the difference between the Smiths and the Williamses? Why is one family able to pay off thousands of dollars in debt on a tight budget, while another family barely gets by week after week? Why does one person succeed with money, while another person struggles?
Southwest Louisiana is home to numerous couples who both live and work together. Here, seven couples share their insight on how to succeed together, both personally and professionally.
You know the aphorism about death and taxes. Like making and breaking New Year’s Resolutions, tax prep tedium is inevitable and frustrating. The good folks at the IRS wait, watch, and want it all done by the dreaded April 15 deadline. Lessen anxiety by getting all the necessary documents organized as soon as possible.
The importance of women taking an active role in a couples financial planning represents more than just jockeying over who gets to control the checking account.
Ideally, people investing for retirement should feel confident their financial advisors give them unbiased advice and recommend what is best for them.
Think about how much debt your household owes. Chances are, it is not due to irresponsible spending or carefree habits. Instead it is likely that much of your debt was necessary to build credit, buy a house, or pay for medical expenses. Debt has become part of the American dream, and today the average American household owes over $130,000.
Buying or selling a home is a rare event for most people. It might happen once a decade or maybe not even that often. Despite the fact that most people rarely deal with real estate, some consider themselves "armchair experts”.
The Millennial generation includes those who were born between 1980 - 2000. Currently, they make up the majority of the workforce in the nation. While often labeled as entitled and lazy, this generation holds more college degrees than any other. Despite being well educated, many Millennials suffer financially due to college debt, skyrocketing rental prices, and stagnant wages. Even with these problems, Millennials manage to make the most of their financial situations by carefully monitoring and prioritizing their spending.
Looking to buy a new car? Maybe your expanding family wishes to upgrade to an SUV. Or you have decided to trade in your college clunker for a sleeker sportier model. Better still, you are in the market for an eco-friendlier car, perhaps switching to a hybrid or fully-electric vehicle.
No matter the reason, timing is important to get the best deal. Generally, it is financially smart to buy a new vehicle near the end of the year for a lower price.
Boss Day provides a great opportunity to show employers or supervisors appreciation for the fairness, patience, and dedication they show in the workplace. On Oct. 16, employees can let the boss know his or her efforts to keep the workplace a positive environment do not go unnoticed.
Have you ever felt as if there is too much going on? Not enough hours in the day? Can not seem to find the time between the kids, work, and other commitments? How do the most successful people manage to conquer the world and do it all with ease?
As the presidential elections heat up, so does political conversation.
The economic expansion in Southwest Louisiana is not limited to big business. The large industry projects and expansion is generating the need for a multitude of support services and products, typically provided by small business. This trickle down effect provides great opportunities for new businesses and growth for existing businesses, says Jeff Mancuso, Senior Vice President of Corporate Lending with Lakeside Bank.
Business owners in Southwest Louisiana are fortunate to be located near the SEED Center, a vital hub of economic development and resources for companies of all sizes. The acronym stands for Southwest Louisiana Entrepreneurial and Economic Development. There, businesses receive assistance from a variety of sources.
Do you dream of starting your own business? Every successful company started out as a small operation, rooted in a dream of transforming skills, talents and passions into a bona fide livelihood. Owning a small business can be tremendously satisfying. You can follow your passion and make your own decisions. But it can also be risky and a tremendous amount of hard work with long hours. Most entrepreneurs though will tell you the rewards of owning a business outweigh the hardships.
An excellent way to get started is to learn from the experiences of others who have been through the arduous process of building a thriving business. Read below the accounts of several Lake Charles businesspersons as they share the ups and downs, the trials and rewards of owning a business. Take their advice and decide if hanging your own shingle is right for you!
If you are looking for ways to improve job performance and increase career opportunities, then professional development may be the key to a brighter, more successful future. Professional development is the continuous process of improving work performance through education and training. It can be pursued through various avenues in and out of the workplace, and it needn’t be a headache. Here are five stress free ways to pursue professional development.
You are in a business meeting and someones phone starts ringing. You are in a restaurant and your date is looking at her phone all evening instead of talking to you. It is the middle of mass and the guy at the end of the pew is texting with his buddies. We have become a society connected to our cell phones, but at what cost? While certainly convenient, we have developed bad habits around the incessant texting, emailing, calling and being connected 24/7.
If you have not yet heard of the mobile gaming phenomenon, Pokémon Go, welcome back from the tundra of Antarctica. The augmented reality gaming app that prompts players to hunt for 151 different characters on their phones debuted on July 6, 2016 and has captivated the minds, attention spans, and wallets of gamers across the country. The app can be addicting, and if you feel inclined to catch a few Eevee when you are at work, you are not alone. An estimated (likely underestimated) 17 million employees admit to playing the game while on the clock. How can gamers balance this virtual scavenger hunt with a positive work ethic?
Cotton Logistics celebrated a groundbreaking ceremony with the community last month at its OneLodge North Lake development located at 516 Prater Road, at the intersection of Old Spanish Trail and Prater Road, Sulphur, LA 70669. Special guests in attendance included elected officials, members of the Chamber of Commerce and representatives from the McNeese State University Foundation, who accepted a donation from the Cotton Foundation in honor of David Conner and his many contributions to the Southwest Louisiana area and McNeese State University.
Money mistakes are made all the time, at the grocery store, the bank, in the housing market, the stock market... you get the idea. Some blunders result from a lack of knowledge; others result from human error and our tendency to work against our own best interests. The biggest snafus often involve those practices that seem harmless but end up negatively impacting your overall financial health.
The skyrocketing cost of college education means that most students consider student loans an appealing option to afford the education of their dreams. Does a decision to take on this debt affect a students later ability to purchase a home?
"The greenest building is the one that is already built,” architect Carl Elefante once said. While other industries in southwest Louisiana are expanding by building new facilities, Indorama Ventures Public Company Limited (IVL), a world-leading producer of intermediate petrochemicals, is currently refurbishing a dormant 1942 ethane cracker facility on approximately 250 acres in Calcasieu Parish. "We plan to upgrade the facility utilizing the best technology and practices in our industry including a comprehensive inspection, repair and refurbishment of all existing equipment within the facility,” said Deepak Kedia, Chief Operating Officer of Indorama Ventures.
When it comes to choosing a candidate for a new job or a promotion, employers consistently say they want a team player, but what does that really mean in a business setting? How can an employee prove they are valuable to the team?
The newly minted Associate of Applied Science in Business Administration degree will begin this summer in SOWELA Technical Community Colleges School of Business and Applied Technology. Students can earn the degree on campus or online.
Networking is a small nightmare for many. The more businesses move to a global mindset, the more would be employees and creatives expand the scope of their networks and it will no longer cut it to follow the old script of showing up at a small trade show, flashing a few smiles, bantering through some small talk, exchanging business cards and shaking hands. If you are going to stay afloat and competitive in this world, you have to find inventive ways to expand your reach and make new connections.
The art of complaining has changed significantly over the years. In the old days, you would begrudgingly approach a manager, bellyache to your spouse, or write a tersely worded letter. But todays society is immediate, with short attention spans and little patience, not to mention the frightening beast of social media, which has given disgruntled complainers (of which there are many) a worldwide platform to air their grievances.
When it comes to attaining success, the biggest hurdle or enemy is often ourselves. Even if you are a hard worker and can see the rewards on the horizon you may be unable to latch onto success because of deep lying fears and insecurities.
For better or worse, our finances play a critical role in the quality of our daily living. Most of us don not need to be rich to enjoy life, but when you are strapped for cash, swallowed by debt, and wondering where your next dollar is coming from, it shadows every decision you make, where to eat, what to buy, how to spend your down time. When our pocketbook struggles, so do we.
John Pohorelsky is a man who believes in seizing opportunity. It is a trait that will serve him well as he assumes the responsibilities of Chairman of the Board for the Chamber Southwest Louisiana and the Alliance Foundation at a time when our region is overflowing with economic opportunity. The growth will bring challenges, but he believes that even within the growing pains present pivotal moments for our community.
Industry Updates from the Calcasieu Ship Channel, Chennault International Airport and Oil and Gas Industry
Call them growing pains the challenges that surround the unprecedented growth under way in Southwest Louisiana. In our annual look at the area economy, we examine the positives and negatives.
Americans are overworked, overstressed, and overstretched. We seem to exist in an endless cycle of working hard then harder without an equal return on our investment. In a perfect world, we’d jet off to an island in the Caribbean and leave all our troubles behind. But in the real world, how can we work smarter instead of harder?
Budgeting, saving and investing, oh my. Where to begin?
Start with your goals and objectives. Do you want to reduce debt, pay less taxes, save more for retirement or simply understand your resources and debts? If you are married, discuss your goals with your spouse and listen to their hopes and concerns. Once you have some ideas, then take these steps.
Leadership development programs designed to increase emotional intelligence have matured during the last 15 years. So why have not we seen a big change in the way executives relate to one other? Despite reading books and articles, taking assessments and attending seminars, leaders still lean toward old habits.
Highly successful people for our purposes, HSPs operate in specific ways, even if they do not realize it. If you want to join the ranks of the HSPs, consider following their footsteps in one, or all, of these ways.
If you have been trusted to help an elderly relative with scheduling preventive exams and putting a health care plan in place, you may struggle with knowing when it is time to take on a greater role in other aspects of their life.
If you are the type to make resolutions, some of them probably include your finances getting them in order, saving more money, tackling debt. Here are a few tips from Ryan Hess, Lakeside Banks Westlake manager, if you are ready to get new financial habits in gear for 2016.
The holidays are prime networking time. Office parties, holiday lunches, gift exchanges. For people who prefer to stay home with cocoa rather than network with co-workers, this can be terrifying, overwhelming, or both.
Here are some tips to help you survive.
It is the jolly holiday season, but if you are like most Americans, it is also the season of overspending and under budgeting. If so, you may want to consider a cash only Christmas, says Christa Comeaux, assistant vice president with Lakeside Bank.
Anyone who has ever found themselves a renter has probably fantasized about being at the other end of that equation and picking up a nice, fat paycheck from tenants, and it is a dream that seems more plausible as Southwest Louisiana's economic climate develops. Well, the good news for would be land barons is that the dream's growing more and more real each day, with the market even friendlier than usual. According to Lindy Gier of PAR Southwest Realty, "properties are moving quickly,” offsetting the typical shortage that generally makes it so hard for would be investors to get into the game.
Very early into my career as a book publisher, I decided to offer opportunities for authors to publish their books free of charge with my company. I did this because of my naive assumption that there was only one thing standing in the way of people choosing my company as their book publisher over some of my competitors, price. I soon learned that there was something else standing in the way, something much more difficult to conquer.
Whether you’re looking to fund a special purchase or cover a major expense, personal loans may be a good option to finance costs. Today there are personal loan options for nearly every consumer, but before you head to the bank, it’s important to become familiar with common loan terminology.
Mortgage payments, credit scores and debt calculation may not be the most romantic topics for pre-marital discussions, but financial experts agree that conversations about finances are essential to the foundation of a strong marriage. Conversely, disagreements over money are a leading cause of divorce in the United States, with many experts citing it as the number one reason couples do not stay together.
Young professionals across Southwest Louisiana are redefining the idea of "settling down.” They crave community engagement and active lives, and many are making big plans for the future, whether it’s jumpstarting a new career, turning a passion into a small business or planning a once-in-a-lifetime trip. But ambitious goals require ambitious budgets.
If you’ve ever flown in or out of Lake Charles, you’ve likely been struck by the Southwest Louisiana landscape from 30,000 feet up. Astronauts in orbit seeing Earth below are said to experience the Overview Effect—a powerful shift in awareness that brings the "big picture” into light. On a much smaller scale, a similar feeling can be felt when flying over our waterways; you can’t help but feel the significance of our region’s biggest asset in the big economic picture.
Life can be fraught with many woes, money among them.
Financial woes carry a unique kind of weight. When you are in debt, broke, or behind on paying bills, the stress permeates every area of your life, especially when there is no clear way out. For overspenders, this anxiety is further compounded with feelings of guilt and remorse.
Where would you rather eat dinner in a new city? A respectably rated Italian restaurant chosen from a search online? Or a place a friend told you about, a family owned restaurant with cozy ambiance (since you hate a busy meal), baskets of table side garlic bread (you will probably go through two), and an alfredo sauce (which is your favorite on farfalle noodles) you will wish you could bottle and take home? Doesnt that second restaurant sound just a bit more appetizing? Cant you already sort of imagine what it would be like to eat there? Sure, the place you found online might have a higher overall rating, but how sure can you be that it would be the best restaurant for you?
Some are born with the gift of clear communication, but most of us have to work on it. In fact, one of the most common fears people share is the fear of public speaking. Standing up in front of a group of people and communicating to them is not easy, whether you are giving a presentation at work, a speech for a large crowd, or a toast at a wedding. On top of all of this, there is so much advice out there on public speaking, where to start?
Lake Charles native Britney Blanchette Pitre, owner of Bons Chiens Dog Training, always knew she wanted to own her own business. After changing her major five times while enrolled at McNeese State University, a common trait of millennials, the 29 year old ended up with a concentration in applied behavior analysis. While attending school at McNeese, she worked at a well known retail pet specialty store and was promoted to accredited dog trainer.
It is not easy to lead. You have to gain respect without being a pushover, delegate with efficiency, and give bad news to good people. You are expected to hire the right employees and keep them, which is easier said than done. And you need to stay on-task and organized, lest your disorganization trickle down to your team.
Congratulations, Graduate! You have successfully completed college. Now you have your diploma in hand and you are ready to face the real world. Here comes the hard part: the real world is nothing like college.
The job search is competitive and stressful enough without the added baggage of resume gaps those lulls in employment that look like gaping holes in your ability to find gainful employment.
Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30 right around the corner so now is the time for you to Be Prepared and Get a PLAN, according to the National Hurricane Center and the National Weather Service, which kicks off National Hurricane Preparedness Week on May 24-30.
Investing can be an intimidating business, especially if you are testing the waters for the first time. It is certainly a smart move, the sooner, the better, but many of the most successful investors took time to feel comfortable in their stock market shoes.
Most people have experienced a financial emergency of some kind. Financial emergency means different things to different people. For some, it is car repairs or medical expenses. For others, it is the loss of a job which makes covering everyday expenses a crisis. There are some people who might even consider an opportunity for an overseas vacation or the purchase of new furniture to be worthy of raiding the rainy day fund.
Lets see if this sounds familiar: You are introduced to someone new. You shake hands and make introductions. One second later, the name is gone, almost as if you never heard it. Now you are in a conversation and you do not know if you are chatting with Bob, Bill, Gary or Bryan.
Hang a big Pardon Our Dust sign over Southwest Louisiana for the next few years. Next to it, hang another one: Help Wanted. Call them signs of the times. Watch the nation read them with envy.
The New Year is a time of renewal, a time to reflect on the past, and to plan for the future.
In Calcasieu and Jeff Davis parishes, nearly 17 percent of the population, or more than 37,000 people, are uninsured. A collaborative effort of several local organizations provides local residents with the resources necessary to make an educated decision when it comes to selecting a healthcare plan under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
More and more people are using LinkedIn to find jobs. Here are some tips on how you can get in on the networking.
The year has reached its end, but that doesnt mean the opportunity to lower your tax bill is over. There are things you can do now through December 31 to ring in the New Year without a hefty tax obligation.
Its often said that it takes a village to raise a child. A similar sentiment can be applied when it comes to building a successful career. In addition to having excellent, applicable technical skills and general knowledge of their industry, successful people also have developed a series of mutually beneficial interpersonal relationships.
It may seem to early, but the junior year of high school is the ideal time to explore options for college scholarships.
We all know that financial differences play a large role in marital breakdowns, but that doesn’t have to be the case. There are ways to prevent economic turmoil from becoming a separating factor in your marriage – the key is to understand each other’s financial philosophies and deciding how to make it work for both of you, according to Mike Carr, Vice President with Lakeside Bank.
Meetings aren’t as easy as they look. It’s more than a bunch of people sitting around a table jabbering on about their agendas and workloads—if done properly, they’re a constructive and productive method of professional interaction. But they have to be planned and managed with a strategic eye.
Rice, soybeans, corn and cattle thrive in Louisiana’s rich, fertile soil and relatively mild climate. The state’s lakes, rivers and bayous are home to fish, shrimp, crabs, and other seafood, and the Gulf of Mexico sits at her back door.
There are twenty-four hours in a day, but you probably wish there were more. If you’re like most Americans, you’re strapped for time. The day ends, another begins, and you’re not sure where all those minutes went. Those lost minutes—which quickly compile into hours—could be hidden under time-sucking strategies that have become so engrained in your routine that you don’t even notice them anymore.
Many college students begin their post-education life with a couple of financial strikes against them. Student loans, credit card debt and poor financial decisions can add up to a hefty financial burden.
Money. It’s a touchy subject, but getting real about your financial situation and defining what money means to you can help you sleep a little easier at night. Learning how to budget it, save it and take control can help you worry a whole lot less.
If the word "negotiation” makes you nervous, throw it out. Instead, think of it as "problem-solving,” because ultimately, that’s what negotiations are—two groups of people trying to come to a consensus that’s in the best interests of both.
Marty Nemko believes that the job-hunting public has been sold a bill of goods when they’re told to follow their passions. For a select few—those who are bright, uniquely talented, uber-motivated and genuinely passionate, he says—that advice works out like gangbusters. For thousands of others, it’s impractical.
Thomas Watson, Sr., once said that to be successful, you have to have your heart in your business, and your business in your heart. This is a thought that seems to be driving the executive team of i-10 Hospitality, a Louisiana-based management company specializing in restaurant, hotel and gaming development, management and consulting services.
Computer and video games have come a long way from Pac-Man and Frogger, and so have those who play them. Over the last two decades the video game business has gone from a cottage industry selling to niche customers to a fully grown branch of the entertainment industry appealing to players of all ages and backgrounds.
Savings. Moderation. Bargain shopping. These terms might as well be in Chinese, if you’re using them in a conversation with your teenager. Getting them to understand these concepts can seem like a losing battle. Today’s teen is armed with more money than any other generation, the independence and mobility to spend this money, and lots of promotional messages telling them exactly what to spend their money on, thanks to Hollywood.
Over the course of three days in March, three groups of creative, entrepreurial minded people got together and formed small companies.
When the effort was completed, a new startup business was chosen as the best out of the group. More importantly, innovation in Southwest Louisiana was recognized and celebrated.
Tax season is here again, and if you are one of the lucky ones, you might be receiving a refund this year. If so, it’s tempting to view this as free money, but there are several smarter ways to use these funds to improve your overall financial picture, according to Christa Comeaux, Assistant Vice President with Lakeside Bank.
JA Finance Park™, a program of Junior Achievement, helps students build a foundation for making intelligent, lifelong, personal financial decisions through hands-on, realistic site-based experiences.
In theory, modern technology is meant to make our lives easier. After the invention of washing machines and dryers, consumers hung up their wash tubs. After cell phones hit the mainstream, we got rid of our answering machines and stayed connected wherever we were. And now that we have e-mail, snail mail seems ancient, slow and irrelevant.
Thanks to the government shut-down last fall, tax season is earlier than ever: the IRS will begin accepting and processing tax returns as early as January 31. Though you might be tempted to wait until the last minute and send all of your forms in on April 15, do yourself a favor and avoid the hassle by getting things in order now. Even if you are a procrastinator, this will make the eventual form-filling a breeze.