Money & Career
Leading the Nation, Forging Ahead Understanding the Economic Impact of Local Industry
3/1/2019 12:00:00 AM


When talking with any resident of Calcasieu Parish, chances are high that they either work at a local industry or have family members who do. As one of the three largest employment sectors in Southwest Louisiana, local industry provides a significant impact in the development of this community.
The benefits of having industries in our area are numerous: the property and sales tax dollars they contribute to the local economy, the jobs – many of which are high paying with good benefits – the charitable contributions, the volunteer hours of their workforce and the economic ripple effect that occurs throughout the region from the money that industry and their employees spend locally. Retail stores, restaurants, entertainment, housing, healthcare – these sectors benefit. Growth in industry also leads to more options in higher education and skilled worker training programs to provide the needed workforce.
"When a new business locates in Southwest Louisiana, whether it’s a restaurant, retail store, or entertainment, it’s largely due to the industrial expansion happening here which promotes the growth of our region,” says Willie Mount, former mayor of Lake Charles and former Louisiana State Senator.

How it Began
Industries have become a familiar neighbor since they set down roots in Southwest Louisiana during the 1940s. World War II was the driving force for the industrial expansion in Southwest Louisiana as local industries manufactured fuel and other materials needed for the war effort. After the war, additional industries located in the Lake Area and solidified our place on the industrial map. 
Several factors combined to make our area an ideal location for industrial growth: access to raw materials, abundant water for the manufacturing process, rail lines, a skilled workforce and the deep-sea channel to the Gulf thanks to the Port of Lake Charles.

Major Industry, Major Benefits 
The petro-chemical industry is the largest component of manufacturing jobs in Louisiana. It has a multiplier of six, according to the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, which means for every one job at a local industry, six other jobs are created. These include a wide variety of business sectors: restaurants, office supplies, courier services, industrial supplies, engineering firms, contractors, etc. 
Dr. Loren Scott, economics professor emeritus at Louisiana State University, released The Economic Outlook in October of 2018. He says the Lake Charles area has often been one of the fastest growing regions in the entire country, "adding 26,800 jobs and expanding by a remarkable 5.4 percent a year. In 40 years of monitoring the Louisiana economy, I’ve never seen back-to-back performances like that in any region in the state. In fact, few regions in the country, if any, matched this record,” he explains.
Seventeen out of the top 20 property taxpayers in Calcasieu Parish are industries. According to the Calcasieu Parish Assessor’s Office, property taxes paid in 2018 by industries located in Calcasieu Parish totaled $54 million. "The property taxes those companies didn’t pay during the tax incentive that most of them received pale in comparison to what they have paid in property taxes over many years since the incentives expired,” wrote Jim Beam, retired editor of the American Press, in a recent opinion column. 
The economic growth in Calcasieu Parish, unquestionably related to local industry, has led to increased tax collections. According to Karl Bruchhaus, superintendent of the Calcasieu Parish School Board, "CPSB has certainly benefitted from the tax revenue from industrial expansion. The growth of our local economy has had a positive impact on revenues collected from taxes.” 

According to numbers provided by the CPSB, industries in Calcasieu Parish have paid $334 million in sales tax since 2014. 
Recently, the school board approved a $50 million capital outlay for repairs and upgrades at area schools. Several of them include:
An eight-classroom pod at Moss Bluff Middle School
Drainage improvements at LeBlanc Middle School and Vinton High School
New student desks at Washington Marion High School
Asphalt traffic stack roads at Westwood Elementary School, S.J. Welsh Middle School, and St. John Elementary School
Cafeteria renovation and upgrades at Brentwood Elementary School
5 new rooftop A/C units for the auditorium at DeQuincy High School

Over $1.4 billion in additional tax revenue will be available to Calcasieu Parish through the year 2022 as tax incentives expire, according to Dr. Scott. "That’s how the process works,” he explains. "Industries are given an incentive to locate in a parish and after a period of time, the incentive expires and the parish collects significant tax revenue for years. While the incentive is in place, the parish benefits from increased sales and payroll taxes collected due to the increased number of jobs and residents.”

Community Benefits 
Tax revenue figures may not be top of mind to many residents, but one doesn’t have to look far to notice how much area industries give back to the community. Many industries and their employees contribute to make SWLA a better community. 

Donations by area industry and their employees to United Way of Southwest Louisiana, for example, total over $13.5 million since 2014. "Those dollars wouldn’t be here without local industry,” says Denise Durel, president of United Way of Southwest Louisiana.
Industry employees have donated over 79,000 volunteer hours since 2014 to local events designed to make our community healthier, more vibrant and improve quality of life for all ages. Some of these include:
Special Olympics
ChemExpo
National STEM Day
Earth Day Trash Bash
Abraham’s Tent
Avenue of Flags
St. Nicholas Center for Children
Calcasieu Council on Aging
Ainsley’s Angels
Ethel Precht Breast Cancer Walk
American Heart Association Heart Walk
E-Recycle Day
Caring for our Coast
Live at the Lakefront
Chuck Fest
Chennault Air Show
Dragon Boat Races

In addition to community events, local industry gives back through Partners in Education. This program matches area schools with local businesses, many of which are SWLA industrial facilities. Recent Partner in Education activities from local industry include:
LyondellBassell’s donation of funds to T.S. Cooley Elementary for a new walkway to the school’s playground.
Air Liquide’s employees volunteering time to clean up and enhance the Prien Lake Elementary campus.
Tellurian’s donation of funds toward the implementation of a Tier 1 Reading curriculum, while Sulphur High School received a donation from Tellurian for new computers.
Phillips 66’s hosting an Energy Workshop for teachers to attend about the nation’s energy resources. 
CITGO’s opening of the CITGO Innovation Academy at E.K. Key Elementary last year, introducing fifth grade students to the foundation of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education through hands-on learning and activities. 

The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office has made $15.1 million worth of upgrades since 2015 due to the increased tax revenues. "We attribute much of this tax revenue directly to the fact that these large industries are located in Calcasieu Parish. Without a doubt, having them in our community contributes greatly to our quality of life,” says Sheriff Tony Mancuso.
New initiatives or upgrades at CPSO include:
Three supplemental pay increase adjustments for all employees (the Sheriff is not eligible to receive)
Total renovation of the Sulphur Law Enforcement Center; the first renovation it’s had in 30 years. 
Complete modernization of the Training Academy with enhanced safety features to comply with demands of the state’s Police Officers Standard & Training.
Purchase of six high-water vehicles and another bearcat to be staged on both the east and west side of the Calcasieu River in the event of weather-related events to allow for efficient response in case of bridge or traffic problems.
Purchase of emergency equipment for every deputy.
Purchase of patrol rifles for all deputies and school resource officers.

"There are so many improvements that have been made to our community thanks to industries,” says Bryan Beam, Calcasieu Parish administrator. "The taxes paid by area industry are a major source of revenue used for parish projects such as drainage and road improvements. For the 2019 CPPJ budget, we’re dedicating $14 million in drainage infrastructure investments. Road maintenance is another big issue within our parish. This year’s parish budget allocates $41.3 million in road projects, an ambitious goal. Roads and drainage aren’t exciting, but they are necessary components for a successful community.”Beam recognizes the large increase in jobs and economic activity thanks to local industrial projects. "These mega-projects have transformed Calcasieu Parish into a key energy hub on a global level. This is great news for our region and we continue to work on solidifying our infrastructure to handle the demand,” he says.

"Southwest Louisiana is seeing the result of industry expansion,” says George Swift, Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance President and CEO. "Our area was ecstatic back in 2012 when we learned of the major expansions planned for our area. We worked diligently with area leaders and company representatives to put together incentive packages that would give the green light to industrial expansion right here at home. We have $44 billion in industrial projects already underway and another $65 billion in industrial projects have been announced for the region.”
As industries naturally look toward additional growth, their expansion in Calcasieu Parish will benefit residents of Southwest Louisiana for generations.
Posted by: Christine Fisher | Submit comment | Tell a friend

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