SWLA Economic Development Alliance Focused on Business Recovery

12 Sep, 2020

By George Swift, President/CEO
SWLA Economic Development Alliance

Hurricane Laura has devastated our five parish region especially Cameron and Calcasieu Parishes.

While dealing with an economic crisis and the covid-19 pandemic, we are now faced with rebuilding our region. To avoid an increase in corona virus we still need to mask up and maintain social distancing when indoors.

Hundreds of volunteer groups have poured in to help in the short term and this is heart-warming and very much appreciated.    Our elected officials have done an excellent job in handling the emergency response.  Governor John Bel Edwards has brought the full resources of the Louisiana National Guard and other agencies to assist.  The Federal government is on the scene with a visit from the President and huge support from FEMA.  Public works crews have been working miracles to get roads clear.

Thousands of workers from Entergy and dozens of other power companies are working on restoring power to the area. The Chamber SWLA has answered hundreds of phone calls directing volunteers and providing answers to businesses needing emergency help.

Despite tremendous damage to SOWELA, Chennault, The Port of Lake Charles, and McNeese, The SEED Center survived.  This month marks the seventh anniversary of that facility which has facilitated thousands of business meetings and served as home to the Business Incubator.

Now we are switching to the recovery mode for our area businesses.  Many businesses were struggling to survive during the closures as a result of Covid-19. Now with Hurricane Laura destroying most of their buildings or inflicting heavy damage, this may be the death blow.  The Chamber SWLA and SWLA Alliance along with our allies will do all we can to help them stay in business.   The SBA has disaster loans, the State of Louisiana has low interest loans, and grants.  We are asking our federal officials to pass Phase Four of the Cares Act so our businesses can get needed funds for survival.  When power is restored businesses can contact the Alliance and we will assist with these and other programs.

Just remember this.  The fighting entrepreneurial spirit of Southwest Louisiana helped build the ship channel.  We have survived several Hurricanes including Audrey, Rita, Ike, and Gustav. We are called to rebuild again.  Cameron now has Cheniere LNG, Hackberry LNG, and Venture Global LNG under construction.  For the most part, the government buildings in Cameron survived, so they have a foundation to build on, unlike before.  Likewise in Calcasieu Parish, we have over 20 industrial facilities which are or will be operating soon, and many other resources to draw upon.

Yes, we have been knocked down like never before, but our spirit and dedication will see us through.

If we are work together we will Rebuild SWLA , better and stronger than before.

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