2017 State of Bossier address full of optimism April 20, 2017BlogJessica Hemingway Local economist Dr. Harold Christensen, an economics professor and the director of the Center for Economics Education at Centenary College, heralded Bossier as an “extraordinarily unique economy.” “The parish doesn’t fit with the rest of the parishes in the region or the state,” he added. It is doing better and the parish is positioned to continue this sustained growth, Christensen said. One indicator of this growth is income from employment, which means income from people participating in the economy and workforce. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the past 25 years, Bossier Parish has grown by about 25 percent, which is “greater than the increase in population” in Bossier Parish, Christensen points out. And, Bossier Parish should remain optimistic about its economy as Bossier has two things that are insular, or almost completely immune to national trends – Barksdale Air Force Base and the Cyber Innovation Center. Both of these entities are not going to be a part of any downturn in the national economy, Christensen said, though he also isn’t expecting a downturn anytime soon. The “forward vision” to start CIC here in Bossier has helped this economy be more sustainable, he added. In fact, Christensen stressed his optimism for the Bossier economy throughout his presentation. Growth was a major trend at Thursday’s State of Bossier Address as Bossier Parish and Bossier City hold the monikors of fastest growing areas in the state. “We are growing from the ground up,” said Lisa Johnson, President/CEO of the Bossier Chamber of Commerce, “and that starts with infrastructure.” And, infrastructure improvements were the crux of Bossier Parish Police Jury President Bob Brotherton’s presentation on Thursday. Swan Lake Road improvements are in Phase I. “We are excited because this is our biggest project,” Brotherton said. Consolidated Waterworks/Sewerage District No. 1 project is nearing completion. “This project, we think, is going to be the catalyst fo development in the Parish,” Brotherton added. Updates to parks and recreational complexes are ongoing, including the Lawson Bo Brandon Sports Complex, South Bossier Sports Complex and other parks within the parish. The Bossier Parish libraries have received improvements in the last year, including a new roof and inside remodeling at the Central Library. Other infrastructure improvements include Atkins Clark Bridge repair as well as Camp Minden overlay. As Bossier Parish is the fastest growing parish in the state, Bossier City is now the sixth largest city in the state. “The state of the City of Bossier City and Bossier Parish is outstanding,” Bossier City Mayor Lorenz “Lo” Walker said. “That is because we work so well together.” Major infrastructure improvements for Bossier City include: Shed Road is still under construction but the improvements will not only address traffic but flooding issues. Walter O. Bigby Carriageway, the extension of the Arthur Ray Teague parkway to connect South Bossier to North Bossier without being stopped by a railroad track, is set to begin construction in 2018. South Bossier Redevelopment district. Viking Drive expansion to three lanes. Innovation Drive will create another East-West corridor from Swan Lake to Airline Drive. Airline Drive Underpass. Infrastructure is not the only area of growth for Bossier City as businesses continue to open in the city at a rapid pace. New residential growth is booming as well. Bossier City has much more to look forward to as the first phase of the Downtown Re-envisioning Project is set to be completed this summer, a new East Gate for Barksdale is in the works and a new, four-lane Jimmie Davis Bridge is still on the horizon. The city also is working to secure Amtrak to utilize the existing rail within Bossier City to help connect Dallas/Fort Worth to Meridian, Miss. There is currently a gap of service between Marshall and Meridian and a stop in Bossier could help fill the gap in that route.