One thing we can say for sure is that Shreveport is in a time of transition. The time has never been more right to mold this city into one that transcends the issues that led to our decline in the 1980s and that has continued ever since.
With the failing of the oil boom in the early 80s, spurred by (and subsequently yanked after) the Arab oil embargo, our city spiraled into a growth black hole. The banks and real estate industries, which were so tied to the oil and gas industry, crashed at the same time. Jobs were lost, businesses boarded up, and citizens moved to greener pastures.
Since that time, we have been waiting for a miracle – a return of big industry in either oil and gas or manufacturing. Opportunities do present themselves from time to time. The Haynesville shale boom came and went. The film industry came for as long as necessary and then went back to New Orleans where studios pictures could be more successful. Elio motors sold a bag of goods to city leaders who were (suspiciously) all too willing to believe the ridiculousness which every citizen saw the moment the announcement was made – that it was vaporware.
It’s time to realize something: we cannot and should not depend on one big company or even two companies to save our city. The only ones who will save us are ourselves.
The cavalry is not coming.
We are it.
Time and again we see articles popping up in local media about the “novel” idea of revitalizing the city core and surrounding neighborhoods. They sell it like its a cute remodel. It’s not. It’s an essential part of becoming a thriving city in the 21st century.
Cities around the country – Austin, Nashville, Portland, and more – have all recognizes the trend that millennials aren’t kids who ride skateboards in suits while tapping on iPads. They are actually intelligent people who have been burned by a bad economy caused by a wealthy few, and a lack of focus on entrepreneurship and creative pursuits.
Millennials, who are soon to be half the workforce, are on the hunt not simply for a place to find a job, but a place where their experience living in a city meets their standards. They want green spaces and dog parks. They want to be able to walk and bike wherever they want. They want to live near other creative and enterprising minds like themselves. They want local art, food, and culture. And not just local, but GOOD – complete with proper marketing and deign. A store with atmosphere, not just product.
These are precisely the things that Shreveport lacks and that others in the state – New Orleans, Lafayette, and even Bossier City with its new development plans – not only recognize, but embrace.
If Shreveport does not do the same, it will remain a place where “good enough” and “we mean well” are the norm instead of “what can we do better” and “how can we raise the bar?”
Some few in town get this message, and the word is spreading, but not fast enough to rival our competition in the region and in our backyard.
We should all encourage our leaders to promote increasing quality of life, including amenities like (but not limited to) providing resources to teachers and schools for proper education, parks, bike lanes, increase in walkability, and a host of other issues we discuss on our Shreveport Progress Report page.
We encourage all to read, engage, and – most of all – keep supporting local growth in business, art, culture, and community.