By Royal Alexander
It is worthwhile to take a moment to evaluate the long and winding road of the year just ended and reflect upon the journey of the New Year upon which we are about to embark.
2021 was difficult in many respects because the nation is still reeling, as much from Covid itself, as from the clumsy and error-filled governmental response to it. But the resilient U.S. economy continues to find its footing in spite of the damaging economic policies of the Biden Administration which have caused the highest inflation rate in nearly 40 years.
We continue to battle inflation resulting from so many trillions of tax dollars taken from the paychecks of hard-working taxpayers, or borrowed from China, and pumped by a bureaucratic federal government, often counterproductively and wastefully, into the national economy. However, the hopeful news includes the fact that the so-called Build Back Better bill—and its actual $5 trillion cost and massive new taxes and regulations—has for now been stopped in the U.S. Senate. This fact alone is enough to change the trajectory of the American economy in a positive direction.
In our beloved Louisiana, the fact that the Biden Administration’s ban on oil and gas leases has been stopped by a federal court is a boon to our state economy given how critical that industry is to our state. It is simply insane for the Biden Administration to literally beg nations who hate us to provide us with energy so we can send these hostile powers more hard-earned U.S. dollars to be used for terrorism and other anti-American activities all over the world.
This policy of begging for energy represents a special kind of clinical governmental madness given that it is the Biden Administration’s very own domestic anti-energy policies that have caused this problem and have ended America’s energy independence, as well as contributing greatly to America’s surging inflation rate by raising the costs of production and transportation of goods. With the enormous energy capacity in our country, it is simple lunacy to ever rely on foreign oil in that it creates a national security weakness. (For the same reason, we should rely on American farmers—including family-owned farms—and never on foreign food sources.)
Here at home in the Shreveport-Bossier metropolitan area, we are greatly blessed to be—and other states no doubt envy this fact—at the intersection of two federal interstates and alongside the Red River, all providing enormous economic assets to our region. This has contributed, no doubt, to the recent news of at least three major new projects in North Louisiana, either already confirmed or likely to be. The powerful local economic impact this portends is truly encouraging.
Ternium USA plans to invest $98 million in expansion of its Shreveport facility when it adds a second coil coating paint line with an annual capacity of 120,000 tons at its Port of Caddo-Bossier facility. In so doing, the company is retaining 157 jobs while the project creates 35 new direct jobs with an average salary of $69,000, plus benefits. It is also estimated the project will result in 98 indirect jobs, for a total of 133 new jobs in Louisiana’s Northwest Region.
Two other business entities—with over $600 million in investment—are also considering building new facilities in Caddo and Bossier parishes. This includes Bia Energy Operating Company which announced it is evaluating a $550 million blue methanol production plant that would be located at the Port of Caddo-Bossier in Shreveport. If the plant becomes operational, it is estimated the company would create 75 direct new jobs, with an average annual salary of $80,000, plus benefits. The plant’s impact is also expected to include 390 indirect jobs, for a total of 465 new jobs in Louisiana’s northwest region. Nearly 350 construction jobs would also be created at peak construction for the project.
In Bossier Parish, Teal Jones Group owners Tom and Dick Jones announced that the company is evaluating Plain Dealing, Louisiana for a planned $110.5 million southern yellow pine lumber plant. The new sawmill would support 125 new direct jobs, with average annual salaries of $47,000, plus benefits. This is expected to also support at least 369 indirect jobs, for a total of 494 prospective new jobs in Louisiana’s northwest region. The construction of the facility would also generate up to 120 construction jobs.
We should not neglect to recall the announcement several months ago of Amazon’s first robotics fulfillment center in Shreveport bringing an estimated 1,000 jobs and a $200 million capital investment to the Hunter Industrial Park near Interstates 20, 49 and 220 and providing ideal access for Amazon’s logistics operations.
While I realize that our region might not ultimately win all of these projects (however, we might!), the fact that our area is being so seriously considered is a very hopeful sign for Northwest Louisiana.
We should never forget that we still possess so many great assets in and across Louisiana and locally—not least our natural resources, our people, and our faith and hope.
As President Reagan encouraged Americans, “Let us thank God for life and the blessings He’s put before us. High among them are our families, our freedom, and the opportunities of a new year …. I’ve always thought New Year’s Day was an especially American tradition, full of the optimism and hope we’re famous for in our daily lives — an energy and confidence we call the American spirit. Perhaps because we know we control our own destiny, we believe deep down inside that working together we can make each new year better than the old.”
Let’s all continue to fight the good fight, to keep the faith and to finish the race as we move together into a New Year of hope and possibility!
Happy New Year!