Category Archives: Blog

BOSSIER CHAMBER ANNOUNCES 2019 BUSINESS AND BUSINESS PERSON OF THE YEAR WINNERS

On Tuesday, January 21, the Bossier Chamber of Commerce honored top business and community leaders at the 72nd Annual Gala. Attendees were invited to “Illuminate” their business with the Bossier Chamber as they celebrated our region’s growth. The event kicked off with a cocktail hour prior to the program, and will hosted hundreds of business professionals at the CenturyLink Center for their largest networking event, presented by Barksdale Federal Credit Union.

The Chamber took time to celebrate the successes of not only the previous year, but the decade of excellence they have achieved. They also shared plans for the year ahead. Outgoing Chairman of the Board Patrick Gullatt, CEO of Barksdale Federal Credit Union, passed the reins to incoming Chairman of the Board Barry Regula, General Manager of Margaritaville Resort Casino. Incoming board members were recognized and the coveted awards of Business of the Year and Business Person of the Year, presented by our award sponsor the Willis-Knighton Health System, were announced.

Beau Hays was named Bossier Chamber’s 2019 Business Person of the Year for his work in igniting growth in the East Bank District.

Simply Chic Boutique was named Bossier Chamber’s 2019 Small Business of the Year for their commitment to the community as well as innovative retail strategies.

Bossier Parish Community College was named Bossier Chamber’s 2019 Business of the Year for their continued return on investment in the community, building our region’s workforce, partnering with industry and being a leader in cyber education in the state.

Business Person of the Year nominees

Mark Crews, Allegiance, LLC

Beau Hays, BeauxJax Crafthouse

Roy Walters, Live Oak Environmental

Business of the Year nominees

Bossier Parish Community College

CHRISTUS Bossier Emergency Hospital

Citizens National Bank

Prevot Design Services

Ruby Shore Software

Simply Chic Boutique

NOW ANNOUNCING FINALISTS FOR THE BOSSIER CHAMBER ANNUAL AWARDS

On Tuesday, January 21, the Bossier Chamber of Commerce will honor top business and community leaders at the 72nd Annual Gala. The event kicks off at 6 p.m. and will host hundreds of business professionals at the CenturyLink Center for the area’s largest networking event.

Each year, the Chamber takes time to celebrate the successes of the previous year while sharing plans for the year ahead. Outgoing Chairman of the Board Patrick Gullatt, CEO of Barksdale Federal Credit Union, will pass the reins to incoming Chairman of the Board Barry Regula, General Manager of Margaritaville Resort Casino. Incoming board members will be recognized and the coveted awards of Business of the Year and Business Person of the Year, presented by our award sponsor the Willis-Knighton Health System, will be announced. This year’s nominees are a group of leaders who excelled in the areas of leadership, growth and involvement.

Business Person of the Year nominees

Mark Crews, Allegiance, LLC

Beau Hays, BeauxJax Crafthouse

Roy Walters, Live Oak Environmental

Business of the Year nominees

Bossier Parish Community College

CHRISTUS Bossier Emergency Hospital

Citizens National Bank

Prevot Design Services

Ruby Shore Software

Simply Chic Boutique

This year, our theme is to “Illuminate” our member businesses as we celebrate the successes of the past decade and look forward to a vision of a prosperous next decade, beginning in 2020.

Tickets and corporate tables are still available at www.bossierchamber.com or by calling (318) 746-0252.

Johnson: Your social media posts affect economic growth

The following is from BIZ. Magazine.

Change within our community looks different for every person, just as being a catalyst for that change can be a unique calling for everyone. Some choose to spend their time volunteering for causes they feel worthwhile to make their community better. Others have the ability to affect change with their pocketbooks and willingly open them for the betterment of our region. Some run for elected offices to have power and influence over decisions. Still, others might work within the community by utilizing their resources, talents, knowledge, or connections.

Maybe as you are reading this, you don’t seen yourself in any of those avenues for making a difference in this community. Keep reading, because I have one idea that EVERYONE could and should be doing to affect change in Bossier, Caddo, Northwest Louisiana and the state as a whole: Speak positively.

If that seems simple, perhaps too simple, of an approach to be worthy of your time or energy, then I’m exactly talking to YOU!

It seems easier these days – both locally, statewide, and nationally – to be a naysayer. Somehow our society has turned into this bandwagon for negativity and people are jumping on in droves. What did your momma always teach you (or at least this is what my momma taught me)? If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Well, I’m going to implore you to use this technique about 90% of the time. Especially on social media.

Why?

Because it actually DOES MATTER.

As businesses look to move and relocate, they absolutely do online research. Obviously they look at things like tax credits, available land, utility costs, proximity to infrastructure needs, etc. But, they also look at the available workforce and the quality of life. We have some great training opportunities within our region to bolster our workforce, even if the skilled labor isn’t currently here. And, we have good weather, lots of recreational activities, and good proximity to larger cities while being tucked away with less of the traffic and other headaches that come with a large city. But what about the people? Do they like to live there? If all the company sees is people wanting to leave, trash talking the city and being generally disgruntled, then why would they want to come there? They don’t want to live somewhere the residents don’t even like. They don’t want to recruit employees to a place that has a negative site of mind.

Consider this scenario: Your business has just given you a promotion opportunity to move from one part of the country to Northwest Louisiana. You’re keen to get that promotion and, frankly, a little tired of your cold weather climate. But, you want to make sure this is a place you could live. What’s the first thing you do to research the area? You get on Google or Facebook. And if you find the RESIDENTS of the community you are thinking of moving to only speaking negatively about where they live, would you want to move there?

I think the answer is no.

You have a power you probably don’t even realize you have. YOU are an expert on the town or city in which you live, as well as the parish, the region, and the state. Why? Because you live there. And, that means that when you say something about where you live, people believe it, generally, to be true. Particularly if they do not live there. 

You have power just by the words you choose to speak publicly or the thoughts you choose to give credence to — this includes memes, photos and videos, not just negative words. So, what will you do with that power? Make them count. Be the change you want to see in the world or, even better, say what kind of world you want to live in. Then get other people to say it, and let’s all work to make the world the version we want it to be. It only takes one match to start a fire and that fire can spread quickly.

Does this mean you can’t ever hold elected officials or organizations or businesses accountable? Absolutely not. It means taking any problems directly to the source instead of airing your dirty laundry on social media. Being negative on social media isn’t affecting change, it’s giving more power to negative behaviors and combating negative with negative. Going to the source to seek an actual solution is demanding change.

You could be hindering economic growth with your social media posts. And, the rate at which you share, comment or like any negative posts about our area as well.

And without the economic growth, how can our area ever grow to improve available jobs and, in turn, quality of life?

Did you know you have that power? What else could you do with it?

I challenge you to illuminate the positive because it can change your own disposition when you find positive things to talk about. You won’t hate where you live and your situation as much, meaning you’ll be a more pleasant person around town. You’ll notice your new state of mind has you dealing with problems in a much more positive way. You’ll notice new opportunities. You’ll get your friends and followers thinking about those things they like as well. You could shed some light on something a fellow resident didn’t even know about or think about.

So, what will you shine a positive light on in 2020? Let’s illuminate our positives to make the vision for this region clear.

KSLA Salutes features Chamber Military Liaison Kattie Hollay

The following is from KSLA.

SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) – There are some veterans who are grateful to have the opportunity to spend the holiday with families — one of those veterans is Kattie Hollay.

Christmas Eve in the Hollay household means wrapping presents and doing a television interview.

“I was actually going to join the Navy because that’s what all my family did, but I decided to go Marine Corps,” she said.

In the fall of 1997, Hollay left her home in Kansas City, Missouri and headed to Parris Island in South Carolina for boot camp.

“The first couple of weeks really scare you because you gotta get used to all the yelling and running around and it’s completely crazy,” she said. “But once you get used to it and you start getting into the groove of things, it’s a lot of fun.”

Her plan was to go into communications, but she ended up working in ground supply and logistics.

“You work a lot in the warehouse and do the administrative stuff for the ordering and the processing and everything like that,” she said. “So I found a little niche of working in a warehouse and organizing stuff like that.”

She spent a lot of time in the North East, traveling from Massachusetts, New York and Washington D.C. Soon her four years turned into 17.

“The four years would go by so fast that you don’t even realize it,” she said. “Then after ten years or 8 years is really where you have to make the decision — stay in or get out.”

But when Hollay became pregnant with her daughter, she finally made the decision to retire, and a year later a phone call led her to become the Bossier Chamber of Commerce’s new military liaison.

“If it was jobs for military — exiting military or if the businesses are trying to get information into the military that’s kind of what I do,” she said. “I’m just the middle person, the communication between the two.”

As Hollay finishes wrapping gifts with her family, she’s learned her journey through the Marine Corps and the life she lives now has truly been the biggest blessing of all.

Hollay is also the secretary for the Women’s Veterans of the Ark-La-TexThe statue that they are currently working to have created and set in front of the Bossier Civic Center was modeled after her.

Copyright 2019 KSLA. All rights reserved.

Click here for the original story.

AG Landry releases the Ins and Outs of using gift cards

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry is helping consumers make wise decisions this holiday season when it comes to gift cards. Landry’s office has released a flyer on the Ins and outs of using gift cards wisely. You can pick those up at the Bossier Chamber of Commerce if you would like to display them in your office. As always, we do encourage you to shop at trusted retailers for your purchases, particularly gift cards.

The PJ’s Coffee on Airline Drive is advertising gift cards are available for purchase. Buying gift cards from local retailers you trust is one way to ensure you are making a wise purchase.

When buying gift cards:

  • Buy from a known and trusted source, avoiding online auction sites.
  • Read the fine print before buying cards, as there may be added fees for the gift card.
  • Give the recipient the original receipt in case the card is lost or stolen.
  • Consider the financial condition of the retailer or restaurant before buying a gift card from them. If the store files bankruptcy, the card may be worth less than anticipated. Or, if the location close to the recipient closes, it may be hard for them to redeem the gift card.

When using gift cards:

  • Note the terms and conditions, including expiration dates or usage fees.
  • Keep the original purchase receipt, card’s ID number and any terms and conditionals in a safe place, in case you need it.
  • Immediately report lost or stolen cards to the issuer.
  • If the card expires before use, make a request for it to be replaced. The issuer may agree to an exchange or to reverse deducted fees.
  • If a caller demands that you pay over the phone using a gift card, be skeptical!

Chamber Holiday Hours

The Chamber would like to wish you Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year! During the holiday season, our hours are being adjusted to allow staff to enjoy time with friends and family!!

The Chamber hours will be as follows:

Monday, December 23, 2019           8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019           Closed

Wednesday, December 25, 2019     Closed

Thursday, December 26, 2019         10 a.m. – 3 p.m.  (Independence Bowl kick – off at 3 p.m.)

Friday, December 27, 2019              10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Monday,  December 30, 2019          10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019           Closed

Wednesday, January 1, 2020            Closed

Thursday, January 2, 2020               10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Friday, January 3, 2020                     10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Monday, January 6, 2020                 Regular hours 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Thank you for your understanding have a wonderful holiday season!

Rockett: Stewarding relationships and providing resources help to further develop the region

The following is from Biz. Magazine

The growth and progress within Bossier Parish and Bossier City has been unprecedented over the last couple of decades.  Since the year 2000, population within Bossier Parish has increased by over 30 percent.  Additional residents require additional services such as transportation access, schools, public safety and quality of life enhancements.  The advancements in services and access to transportation has transformed this community in a relatively short amount of time; producing tangible evidence that Bossier does in fact mean business.  As time marches on, we can expect to continue to see positive changes in the local area due to the pro business climate Bossier is known for.  

Change happens not only in communities, but in organizations as well.  Our role as the lead organization for economic development in Bossier Parish and Bossier City has remained the same; to position Bossier to be competitive in securing new jobs and investment.  However, due to the tremendous growth of the area, how we execute the Greater Bossier Economic Development Foundation’s (GBEDF) mission is changing.  

Growth and development within the parish and city has brought about a land shortage within our industrial parks.  Since 2005, the GBEDF has marketed, negotiated and sold over 100 acres for development within our parish’s industrial parks.  Presently, only approximately 50 acres total of development ready sites in our industrial park remain in Bossier City itself.  Instead of looking at this as a challenge, the GBEDF leadership has countered by building relationships with private landowners in order to continue to market Bossier for development.  Our job as a liaison between investors and developers continues to expand as the effects of growth impact the area, and we welcome conversation from those interested in investing in Bossier.  

Serving as liaison between industry and landowner is not where our efforts halt.  We have been active in pursuing state certification for the larger tracts of land available in Benton’s industrial parks through the Louisiana Economic Development (LED) Certified Industrial Sites Program.  This rigorous certification program helps to identify development ready sites and requires an extensive application process which includes an exhaustive review.  This increases the marketability of the land once obtained and the certification is helpful to have during the site selection process.  The program was brought about by economic developers recognizing that the timeframe for making business location decisions has shortened and companies are becoming much more risk averse.

More recently, we have fielded interest from developers as a result of the launch of the Federal Opportunity Zone program.  The Opportunity Zone program was established by Congress in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 to spur long-term private sector investments in low-income urban and rural communities. The program offers federal capital gains tax benefits to investors who re-invest their capital gains into Qualified Opportunity Funds.  The GBEDF created the website www.InvestNWLA.com  in order to provide information on the region’s designated opportunity zones.  The website provides a regional overview and serves as an interactive tool where users can determine specific demographic information related to each zone in order to assist in their decision-making, navigate the Opportunity Zone investment process, and learn more about the areas designated for development.  

We look forward to the future and the new opportunities brought about by positive change.  We stand ready to assist the business community and welcome you to join us in our efforts to build tomorrow’s success stories today.  

David “Rocky” Rockett

David “Rocky” Rockett | Executive Director of the Greater Bossier Economic Development Foundation (GBEDF) 

Bossier Parish commits to study about Red River flooding, navigability into Arkansas

The following is from Biz. Magazine

Bossier Parish Police Jury members agreed Wednesday to commit $50,000 as the parish’s share for participating in a feasibility study that could eventually result in a navigable Red River north into Arkansas, and more controllable water levels to help prevent flooding.

Parish Administrator Bill Altimus, Parish Engineer Butch Ford and other staff members attended a meeting this week where the possibility of providing access to the north by adding new lock and dam systems to the north of the I-220 bridge over the Red.

“Arkansas has long been interested in this for their own reasons and the state has been raising money on their own for Red River navigation into their state,” Altimus reported. “In the past the cost-benefit ratio hasn’t been favorable, but now the ratio is feasible.”

Altimus said officials at the meeting, which included those from Arkansas and the U.S. Corps of Engineers, have devised a plan for a $3 million study that can be approved and accepted by the Corps.

“Arkansas has agreed to put up half the money and to spend their money first,” he said. “They’re asking for commitments from local entities in this area to come up with the rest. Our share would be fifty thousand dollars but we would not have to come up with that until 2021.”

Others that will be asked to participate include Bossier City, Caddo Parish, Shreveport, the Red River Waterway Commission and the various levee boards in the area.

Altimus also pointed out that if the feasibility study runs more than the anticipated $3 million, Arkansas has agreed to pick up the difference. If the cost is less, the entities that participate will receive a prorated share of the difference.

Ford said construction of lock and dam systems on the northern stretch of the Red could go a long way toward controlling water levels that have been problems in the past.

“Since 2015 we’ve been trying to figure a way to fix the situation and a lock and dam would solve our problems,” he said. “Dredging won’t solve it because the river will silt in again. We won’t know the impact until the study is finished.”

BOSSIER CHAMBER TO PARTNER WITH LOCAL BANKS FOR SHOP SMALL SATURDAY

Bossier Chamber to reward people for shopping small during Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday is approaching quickly and the Bossier Chamber of Commerce is celebrating by partnering with local banks Citizens National Bank, Community Bank of Louisiana, Gibsland Bank and Trust and Red River Bank to reward people for shopping small on Small Business Saturday, Nov. 30, by surprising shoppers and paying for a portion of their purchase.

With the help of these banks, the Chamber has $700 to go towards rewarding locals for supporting our small businesses throughout Bossier Parish.

“Small business is the backbone of our economy,” Lisa Johnson, President and CEO of the Bossier Chamber, said. “It is very important to shop small, shop local and support these businesses!”

In addition to paying for a portion of the purchases of small business shoppers, the Chamber will also be passing out Shop Small bags and visiting with Small Businesses that help our economy grow.

To follow the action, pay attention to the Bossier Chamber’s social media over the next few weeks as they touch base with the local banks on why they want to give back, as well as on Shop Small Saturday to see surprised shoppers.