Louisiana has continued to thrive and grow in a weak national economy, and the outlook for the future is equally positive. Recent reports based on sophisticated econometric models indicate that the state will continue steady economic growth for the next two years. That's good news for the state, and it's great news for Bossier City, the state's fastest growing city. Need more proof? Just look around the area.
Three riverboat casinos now operate in Bossier City. These operations represent 4,500 direct jobs, and another 4,000 indirect jobs at restaurants, hotels and retail stores in this region. Construction activity is an excellent measure of the health of an economy. The massive investment in commercial construction that began in Bossier in 1993 continues unabated. This past year some of the projects in Bossier include such diverse projects as the new Bossier Parish Community College campus, the nearly $200 million Margaritaville Casino Resort Project, and mutliple infrastructure projects from street/drainage to sewage/waste systems. These are just a small part of the vast growth seen in the community.
In today's business climate, diversification is also a critical part of a sound economy. Bossier continues its successful path in that direction. Industrial production in Northwest Louisiana remains strong, as does timber and petroleum production. Additionally, the Port of Shreveport-Bossier now boasts a 600-foot cargo wharf, a 50 foot bridge crane and a 30,000 sq-foot storage shed. Red River Terminals' $9.4 million bulk liquid storage facility represents their confidence in our Port facility. In addition, Morris & Dickson Co. LLC has constructed a new distribution complex at the Port of Shreveport-Bossier. The company is the nation's oldest privately owned pharmaceutical distributor and has been locally owned and operated by the Dickson family for five generations. The company will be located at the northern end of the Port Complex.
Barksdale Air Force Base, another major factor in our regional economy, also fared well this year. The Department of Defense has invested $50 million in construction for the base, a definite boom for Northwest Louisiana. Barksdale Air Force Base has an annual economic impact of $850 million on our region.
Important to the community's growth is the high-quality education available in Bossier Parish. The Bossier system is recognized statewide as one of the best, and achievement scores are consistently higher than the rest of the state. The excellent school system attracts families, in turn resulting in the development of high-quality residential subdivisions.