Category Archives: Blog

BYL: An investment in our future leaders

This story was originally published in the Sept. 17, 2019 BIZ print edition.

Workforce development is a key component of a thriving economy and for nearly 25 years, the Bossier Chamber has been investing in growing the future leaders and workforce of Northwest Louisiana through the Bossier Youth Leadership Program.

The program takes select high school juniors from Bossier Parish and trains them to take on leadership roles and gain experiences in civic engagement.

BYL is a partnership between the Chamber and Bossier Parish Schools. Through different sessions throughout the school year, the program teaches Bossier students leadership and teambuilding skills while introducing them to the facets of their local economy: quality of life, government and law enforcement, social services, education, healthcare, technology and economic development, with a final session trip to the Capitol.

By identifying our workforce needs in the region, the program showcases how each student can find a place in their hometown. These sessions are not just informational but help the students make educated decisions for their future careers and help maintain our workforce.

I didn’t get to experience the BYL program in high school but now I am serving as the coordinator and I feel as though this is a great learning experience for me. I am getting to see the way the business community supports our students as they are our future workforce.

Being a member of the workforce community now, I have already learned skills to take with me to be a leader in my own way at my own job just from attending one session alone. The students so far have completed a Leadership Training day where they learned what being a leader means and ways to be a leader. They learned simple things like speaking confidently and projecting your voice to communicating clearly and effectively on exactly what you mean to avoid any possible hiccups.

While this program is full of helpful information for our future leaders, it most importantly assists students in Bossier Parish to see where they could fit in the workforce following high school and/or college. The community benefits when students can see the jobs available for them that might not require traditional schooling, but rather a form of vocational training.

Every session the students participate in show a facet of our local workforce. They learn about running a school system to helping children in the area that are being mistreated through the help of social services. They visit the Capitol and learn about the government and how the state is run. They also learn about healthcare and even deliver a baby through a simulation.

This opens students’ minds to a different path than what they might have considered. For some, it shows that college is a great step to being a future doctor or that they only need workforce training to become a great police officer.

Overall the program works to create responsible and productive citizens at home, continuing to sow the seeds of leadership and teambuilding as the students continue to grow in their hometown. It is vital for these students to invest back into our own area.

If you are a business wondering how you can get involved with the BYL Program, email Caroline@bossierchamber.com.

Caroline Reed is the Communications Manager & BYL Coordinator for the Bossier Chamber of Commerce

Louisiana Chamber of Commerce Executives Recognizes Bossier Chamber President Lisa Johnson as 2019 Service Award Recipient

The Louisiana Chamber of Commerce Executives (LACCE) recognized its 2019 Service Awards at its 2019 Annual Conference held today at the Golden Nugget in Lake Charles, LA. The Service Awards recognize those chamber of commerce professionals in Louisiana who have achieved significant years of service in the chamber of commerce industry.

LACCE presents a certificate of service for each five-year increment of service.  Service includes a combination of executive and/or staff employment time in all chambers of commerce.

We are proud to recognize the following five chamber professionals for their years of service to the chamber industry:

5 Years of Service
Stephanie Barnette – Greater Minden Chamber 

10 Years of Service
April Wehrs – Livingston Parish Chamber

15 Years of Service
Lisa Johnson – Bossier Chamber
Chassity McComack – River Region Chamber

30 Years of Service
Lacey Osborne – St. Tammany West Chamber 

Congratulations to each of you and thank you for your service to the chamber of commerce industry! 

Louisiana Chamber of Commerce Executives Recognizes Bossier Chamber as 2019 LACCE Accredited Chamber

It’s an exciting time to be in the chamber of commerce industry and to be a chamber in Louisiana.  Many chambers have risen to the challenge to provide unparalleled leadership and direction, helping their members and communities thrive.  This type of performance reflects the solid organizational infrastructure built through much hard work and diligence.

In 2016, the Louisiana Chamber of Commerce Executives (LACCE) Board of Directors sought a way to recognize chambers in the state that have focused internally on their operations to assess their strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities to create efficient, effective organizations positioned to deliver great value.  Thus, the LACCE Accredited Chamber program was created.

The purpose of the program is to facilitate continuing excellence in the chamber industry and to foster a pro-business environment across the state.  Chambers must meet standards in organization, service intent and capacity, professional administration, financial management, communications, and advocacy to achieve the designation.

With over 75 chambers of commerce in the State of Louisiana, one chamber was recognized as the newest LACCE Accredited Chamber during the Awards Ceremony of the 2019 LACCE Annual Conference held at the Golden Nugget Casino in Lake Charles, LA on Monday, September 9.  The designation reflects a prestigious honor that distinguishes the high quality, expertise, and strong leadership displayed by accredited chambers. This chamber now makes up a total of 14 chambers of commerce that have been recognized with this distinction over the past three years.

The following chamber of commerce received the LACCE Accredited Chamber designation for 2019:

  1. Bossier Chamber of Commerce

Congratulations to Lisa Johnson and her team for achieving this recognition!

LACCE is the professional development organization for chambers of commerce executives and staff members in Louisiana. LACCE equips chamber professionals with leadership development opportunities and tools to build innovative chambers. 

Cassidy stresses importance of funding infrastructure, including rural broadband

AUGUST 27 — Tuesday’s Bossier Chamber of Commerce Board Meeting featured updates from our federal delegation, including a visit from U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, M.D. As the senator sat around the table with the board, he touched on many topics from a digital workforce to infrastructure to the opioid crisis.

Sen. Cassidy expressed concern for our growing infrastructure needs, including getting more money to dredge the Red River, more money for broadband buildout and more money for our roads and highways.

“The money for rural areas is there,” in relation to the buildout of broadband, Cassidy said. “We’ve been working and seeing this region as an engine for all the rural areas that surround. We are working closely with the USDA and the FCC. There’s about $100 million in grants for that to occur. If we can implement [the broadband buildout], we think our rural areas are better situated to integrate into the mainstream economy and you [Bossier] are the mainstream economy.”

  • U.S. Congressman Mike Johnson called into the meeting to talk about workforce and healthcare, two priorities of the Republican Study Committee that Congressman Johnson chairs. He reported that he is keeping priorities at Barksdale at the top of his list and, when asked, reported that H-2B visas, for temporary non-agricultural workers, are a political football in the current partisan climate.
  • From U.S. Senator John Kennedy’s office, John Barr reported the senator filed an unclaimed savings bond act, giving states access to records on billions of dollars of matured and unredeemed savings bonds sitting at the treasury, to reunite the bonds with the bond holders.

BIG Event to provide advice, assistance for farming and agricultural industry

The following is provided by Biz Magazine

The Bossier Parish Police Jury and Trailblazer RC&D will host The Bossier BIG Event Aug. 17, 2019, at Bossier Parish Community College. 

The BIG Event will feature workshops on USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service technical and financial assistance, USDA Farm Service Agency farm loan programs, USDA Rural Development financial opportunities, small business development opportunities, youth in agriculture opportunities, and estate planning/legal matters.

“The BIG Event is a great opportunity for Bossier Parish residents to meet U.S. Department of Agriculture representatives and learn how they can help you improve your farm or ranch,” said Bob Brotherton of the Bossier Parish Police Jury.  “In addition, a local attorney will offer estate planning advice—and it is all free!”

The Bossier BIG Event will take place on August 17, 2019, at the Bossier Parish Community College, in Building F, Room 203, 6220 East Texas Street, in Bossier City, Louisiana.  Workshops will begin at 9:30 a.m. and conclude at noon.  You are encouraged to pre-register; however on-site registration is available on the day of the event beginning at 9:00 a.m. 

To pre-register to attend or for more information on The Bossier BIG EVENT, call (318) 255-3554 or email ceo@trailblazer.organd provide your name, contact information, and name of event.  If you need special accommodations to attend this event, please call (318) 255-3554 as soon as possible.  

The Bossier BIG Event is made possible by a community partnership among USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Bossier Parish Community College, Bossier Parish Police Jury, and Trailblazer RC&D.  Sponsors for this event include ENABLE Midstream Partners; Mudd & Holland Consulting Foresters, LLC; Burnham Construction; Whitetails Unlimited; Bossier Parish Police Jury; Bossier Parish Community College; USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Trailblazer RC&D.

Pack the Bus: School Supply Drive

The Bossier Chamber in partnership with the Bossier Parish School System, Advocate Advertising Group, and other local businesses will be hosting a “Fill the Bus” school supply drive on Aug. 5 and Aug. 6 dedicated to helping Bossier Parish teachers fill the void left when families are unable to provide their child with needed supplies.

Some items needed are:

  • 1″ Binders
  • Composition Books
  • Pencils
  • Pens (black)
  • Highlighters 
  • Crayons
  • Markers
  • Scissors
  • Sharpies
  • Dry Erase Markers
  • Erasers for White Boards
  • Staples
  • Scissors
  • Thumb Drives
  • Post-It Notes
  • Colored Pencils
  • Notebooks
  • White Cardstock
  • Yellow Cardstock
  • Kleenex 
  • Binder Clips (small & medium)
  • Glue Sticks
  • Pencil Boxes
  • Inexpensive headphones 
  • Paper Clips
  • Rubber Bands 

Look for the yellow school bus that will be in the Bossier Chamber parking lot!

HDA Update on 2019 Elections

The following is courtesy of Harris, DeVille and Associates

The election season is upon us here in Louisiana. Qualifying for all statewide and legislative seats begins August 6. After the close of qualifying on August 8, we will obviously have a better idea of the slate of candidates. But until then, this will have to do! There are 23 incumbents seeking reelection to the state Senate and 65 incumbents seeking reelection to the state House of Representatives. If all those are reelected, that’s a 61 percent rate of return. Eighteen House members are running for the Senate, and potentially three Senate members are running for the House. That’s a potential of 15 percent in member crossover. IF all incumbents win and the crossover attempts are successful, that means about 75 percent of existing members remain in the Legislature. Some of the crossover seats pit existing members against each other. Our current lists, which change nearly every day, show 222 candidates for the state House and 81 candidates seeking election to the state Senate.

LEGISLATIVE INCUMBENTS…There are 23 incumbents seeking reelection to the state Senate and 65 incumbents seeking reelection to the state House of Representatives. A cumulative list of those candidates follows and will be more complete after the qualifying period ends on August 8.

Senate Incumbents Seeking Reelection:

  • Bret Allain, R-Franklin (no announced opposition)
  • Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge (no announced opposition)
  • Wesley Bishop, D-New Orleans (no announced opposition)
  • Gerald Boudreaux, D-Lafayette (no announced opposition)
  • Troy Carter, D-New Orleans (no announced opposition)
  • Page Cortez, R-Lafayette (no announced opposition)
  • Jim Fannin, R-Jonesboro (announced opposition)
  • Ryan Gatti, R-Bossier City (announced opposition)
  • Bob Hensgens, R-Abbeville (no announced opposition)
  • Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell (no announced opposition)
  • Ronnie Johns, R-Lake Charles (no announced opposition)
  • Eddie Lambert, R-Gonzales (no announced opposition)
  • Jay Luneau, D-Alexandria (no announced opposition)
  • John Milkovich, D-Shreveport (announced opposition)
  • Fred Mills, R-Parks (no announced opposition)
  • Beth Mizell, R-Franklinton (no announced opposition)
  • Barrow Peacock, R-Bossier City (no announced opposition)
  • Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans (no announced opposition)
  • Edward Price, D-Gonzales (announced opposition)
  • Gary Smith, D-Norco (no announced opposition)
  • Gregory Tarver, D-Shreveport (announced opposition)
  • Rick Ward, R-Port Allen (no announced opposition)
  • Bodi White, R-Baton Rouge (no announced opposition)

House Incumbents Seeking Reelection:

  • Roy Daryl Adams, D-Jackson (announced opposition)
  • Beryl Amedee, R-Houma (no announced opposition)
  • Tony Bacala, R-Prairieville (no announced opposition)
  • Larry Bagley, R-Stonewall (no announced opposition)
  • Stuart Bishop, R-Lafayette (announced opposition)
  • Ryan Bourriaque, R-Abbeville (no announced opposition)
  • Ken Brass, D-Vacherie (no announced opposition)
  • Chad Brown, D-Plaquemine (no announced opposition)
  • Barbara Carpenter, D-Baton Rouge (announced opposition)
  • Gary Carter, Jr. – D-New Orleans (no announced opposition)
  • Robby Carter, D-Amite (no announced opposition)
  • Jean-Paul Coussan, R-Lafayette (no announced opposition)
  • Kenny Cox, D-Natchitoches (no announced opposition)
  • Raymond Crews, R-Bossier City (announced opposition)
  • Paula Davis, R-Baton Rouge (no announced opposition)
  • Phillip DeVillier, R-Eunice (no announced opposition)
  • Mary Dubuisson, R-Slidell (no announced opposition)
  • Royce Duplessis, D-New Orleans (no announced opposition)
  • Stephen Dwight, R-Lake Charles (no announced opposition)
  • Rick Edmonds, R-Baton Rouge (announced opposition)
  • Julie Emerson, R-Carencro (announced opposition)
  • Randal Gaines, D-LaPlace (no announced opposition)
  • Ray Garofalo, R-Chalmette (no announced opposition)
  • Cedric Glover, D-Shreveport (no announced opposition)
  • Jimmy Harris, D-New Orleans (no announced opposition)
  • Lance Harris, R-Alexandria (announced opposition)
  • Stephanie Hilferty, R-Metairie (announced opposition)
  • Valarie Hodges, R-Denham Springs (no announced opposition)
  • Paul Hollis, R-Covington (no announced opposition)
  • Dodie Horton, R-Haughton (no announced opposition)
  • Mike Huval, R-Breaux Bridge (no announced opposition)
  • Barry Ivey, R-Baton Rouge (no announced opposition)
  • Ted James, D-Baton Rouge (no announced opposition)
  • Patrick Jefferson, D-Homer (no announced opposition)
  • Sam Jenkins, D-Shreveport (no announced opposition)
  • Mike Johnson, R-Pineville (no announced opposition)
  • Edmond Jordan, D-Baton Rouge (no announced opposition)
  • Jeremy Lacombe, D-New Roads (announced opposition)
  • Ed Larvadain III, D-Alexandria (announced opposition)
  • Chris Leopold, R-Chalmette (no announced opposition)
  • Rodney Lyons, D-Harvey (no announced opposition)
  • Sherman Mack, R-Albany (announced opposition)
  • Tanner Magee, R-Houma (no announced opposition)
  • Denise Marcelle, D-Baton Rouge (no announced opposition)
  •  Joe Marino, I-Gretna (no announced opposition)
  •  Jack McFarland, R-Jonesboro (no announced opposition)
  • Wayne McMahen, R-Minden (no announced opposition)
  • Blake Miguez, R-Erath (no announced opposition)
  • Dustin Miller, D-Opelousas (no announced opposition)
  • Greg Miller, R-Norco (no announced opposition)
  • Pat Moore, D-Monroe (announced opposition)
  • Stuart Moss, R-Lake Charles (announced opposition)
  • Nick Muscarello, R-Hammond (no announced opposition)
  • Vincent Pierre, D-Opelousas (no announced opposition)
  • Clay Schexnayder, R-Gonzales (no announced opposition)
  • Alan Seabaugh, R-Shreveport (announced opposition)
  •  Joe Stagni, R-Kenner (no announced opposition)
  •  John Stefanski, R-Crowley (no announced opposition)
  •  Julie Stokes, R-Kenner (announced opposition)
  • Polly Thomas, R-Metairie (no announced opposition)
  • Chris Turner, R-Ruston (no announced opposition)
  • Malinda White, D-Bogalusa (announced opposition)
  • Mark Wright, R-Covington (no announced opposition)
  • Jerome Zeringue, R-Houma (no announced opposition)

Ending a “will he-won’t he” situation, Rep. Steve Pylant, R-Winnsboro, recently announced he will not be seeking reelection. Also not running for reelection is Rep. Terry Brown, I-Colfax. Additionally, two Senate incumbents and one House incumbent on this list (and possibly more) may decide not to seek reelection. Time will tell.

LEGISLATIVE CROSSOVER…The qualifying period for the 2019 elections ends August 8. Eighteen House members are running for the Senate, and three senators are running for the House. Some of the races pit term-limited House members against each other for Senate seats. A cumulative list of those candidates follows:

House members running for the Senate:

  • SD 3/Morrell: Reps. John Bagneris, D-New Orleans, and Joe Bouie, D-New Orleans
  • SD 8/Alario: Rep. Pat Connick, R-Marrero (term-limited)
  •  SD 9/Appel: Rep. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie (term-limited)
  • SD 10/Martiny: Rep. Kirk Talbot, R-River Ridge (term-limited)
  • SD 11/Donahue: Rep. Reid Falconer, R-Mandeville
  • SD 13/Erdey: Rep. Rogers Pope, R-Denham Springs (term-limited)
  • SD 14/Colomb: Rep. Pat Smith, D-Baton Rouge (term-limited)
  • SD 16/Claitor: Reps. Steve Carter, R-Baton Rouge, and Franklin Foil, R-Baton Rouge (term-limited)
  • SD 25/Morrish: Reps. Mark Abraham, R-Lake Charles, (not term limited) and Johnny Guinn, R-Jennings (term-limited)
  • SD 28/LaFleur: Reps. Bernard LeBas, D-Ville Platte (term limited) and Robert Johnson, D-Marksville (term-limited)
  • SD 30/Smith (John): Rep. James Armes, D-Leesville (term-limited)
  • SD 34/Thompson: Rep. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe
  • SD 35/Fannin (running): Rep. Jay Morris, R-Monroe
  • SD 39/Tarver: Rep. Barbara Norton, R-Shreveport (term-limited)

Senate members running for the House:

  •   HD 83/Billiot: Sen. John Alario, R-Westwego
  •  HD 19/Chaney: Sen. Francis Thompson, D-Delhi
  • HD 21/Anders: Sen. Neil Riser, R-Columbia

As always, Senate President Alario remains an enigma, and will likely keep us all guessing as to his intentions for candidacy until the end of qualifying. If other incumbents for the Senate decide not to run, that could change the outlook for House members, who may choose to try to cross over.

Putting your best face forward online

Have you done a Google search of your business lately? We highly recommend you do.

In fact, the way to access what information shows up for your business is called Google My Business. This is a free tool to manage your online presence across Google products, including search and maps.

We recently attended an event hosted by Louisiana Travel and our partners at the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau, where they offered tips and best practices to make sure our local businesses are putting their best online face forward to increase your traffic and visibility.

What happens when you Google your business? If there is a listing on Google already, you can click “Own this business” to claim it. And, you will want to claim it so you can make sure your business is properly represented on the internet.

You’ll need a Google account to become the “owner” of the business but those accounts are free and easy to obtain if you don’t already have one. 

If your business is not listed, go to business.google.com and click “start now.” 

Here’s three things to note about your business profile: 

  • 1. Your business profile on Google is an enormous source of exposure for your business.
  • 2. Make sure your profile is optimized, meaning you don’t have any missing information like location, hours, phone number, etc.
  • 3. Customers are creating much of the content for your business through the photos and reviews they post. 

Once you have secured your business listing and made sure all of the information is correct, it’s time to make sure your business listing stands out. One of the most important things you can do to have a good presence on Google is use eye-catching, relevant photos to entice customers to visit your business or use your services. Just know – horizontal images are preferred. And, include an exterior and interior photo if possible. This will help potential customers identify your storefront.

What about reviews? These can make or break whether a customer decides to patronize your business. In Google My Business, you can respond to reviews directly, which is a great practice to show you are a proactive business owner. Studies show customers trust a business more if it has positive reviews so encourage your customers to leave their feedback as a way to grow your clientele. Make sure when you do respond to a review to stay away from getting personal – be helpful and courteous and thank the reviewer for taking the time to review your business. 

While we are sharing these tips from this helpful Google My Business event, these aren’t just tips for your Google presence alone – they include all of your social media channels, your signage, advertisements, etc. as well. Make sure all information about your business is correct and up-to-date through any communications you have with your clients. Any time is a great time to check all of these accounts, refresh your photos and make sure you are maximizing your web presence.  

Community Resource: SUSLA offers affordable center for entrepreneurs

The Center for Business and Community Development facility houses eight offices for new and emerging entrepreneurs, 2 office spaces for program partners (Martin Luther King CDC and SUSLA Business Studies Department), one Facility Manager’s Office, Clerical Office Space, one Resource Room, one Break Area, one Computer Laboratory, two classrooms and two conference room areas.  

  • One-to-one business mentoring with regular monitoring for adherence to business plan 
  • Access to free and discounted financing, legal, marketing, public relations and Web design services.
  • Virtual office opportunities
  • State-of-the-art VoIP telephones
  • Rent is only $350/month and $450/month (larger offices) (utilities included)

SUSLA offers a variety of services from entrepreneurship training, Small and Emerging Business Development Program and training classes.
For more information on the services they offer, visit SUSLA’s website.

Community Resource Series features LA Job Connection

Louisiana Job Connection brings the latest technology to Louisiana employers as they search for qualified job candidates. The website is a smart technology solution provided by the State of Louisiana. It is provided by LED FastStart® at no cost to Louisiana employers and at no cost to job seekers everywhere. Simple to use and free, this web-based tool allows hiring managers to connect to the right candidates more quickly. Let’s take a closer look.

Louisiana Job Connection connects Louisiana employers with qualified candidates from everywhere, via a free job-matching website. Employers are able to post jobs, and matches are made instantly. Here are some of the site’s features:

  • You may post as many jobs as you like, and link them directly to your applicant tracking system. Or you may opt to accept resumes through your Louisiana Job Connection account.
  • As you add new jobs into the system, you will be notified of new job-seeker matches.
  • Our interactive job-description builder helps you create detailed job descriptions with work activities and required skills.
  • A list of qualified candidates tailored to your needs will be generated instantly. You will be able to review resumes and contac

As the demand grows for skilled professionals, Louisiana Job Connection gives you quick access to a large pool of talent, and our innovative matching system delivers relevant matches based on your employment needs.

Louisiana Job Connection’s goal is to make job recruitment easier for all Louisiana employers by reducing the time you spend reviewing stacks of resumes. We connect you with qualified candidates instantly, and at no charge. Begin the process now by going to LouisianaJobConnection.com.