SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – City leaders have been discussing the future of economic development in the city of Shreveport now that the Office of Economic Development has been dismantled.
During Monday’s city council work session, Mayor Tom Arceneaux’s administration updated the council on their plans for moving forward without an economic development office.
Interim CAO Tom Dark said the previous administration had an in-house economic development staff, which the new administration is choosing not to have in order to use more private sector partners. There were four full-time positions in the previous administration, and removing those economic development positions will save the city about $250,000. The staff has been moved to other city positions.
Those funds can now be reallocated, with $125,000 going into the reserve. $100,000 will be used to build a yellow fever monument inside Oaklawn Cemetery, which Dark said was promised under the prior administration, but the money was never given. $25,000 will be allocated to the Northwest Louisiana Economic Partnership.
Dark says such spending “goes along with our belief of trying to put that into the private sector and not city employees.”
Councilmembers expressed support for the measure, but there were concerns about the city losing its economic development director as an in-house position.
“I’ve always been an advocate of giving more to NLEP to try and help us with this. I wasn’t under the impression we were going to do away with the director, but I’m glad we’re allocating more money to NLEP and other avenues to do that,” said councilman Grayson Boucher, District D.
“My concern is economic development is extremely important to this city, and per the charter, we have to have a director. So I just want to make sure we’re honoring the charter,” said councilman Dr. Alan Jackson, District E.
Mayor Arceneaux told the council that the change would still follow the city charter.
The council will move forward with reallocating the funds and discuss the matter further at Tuesday’s regular meeting.