Category Archives: Press Release

State of Education highlights work of Bossier principals

District asks community to continue to partner with them

BOSSIER CITY — The annual State of Education address, hosted by the Bossier Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with Bossier Parish Schools, highlighted the strong work of the district’s principals as well as the strength of the school district as a whole.


Principals David Thrash, of Bossier High School, and Lisa Burns, of W.T. Lewis Elementary School, took the stage to talk about the unique makeups of their different campuses as well as the successes and challenges they face each day.


Thrash said Bossier High School, a Title I school, has the largest population of students who walk to school in the district. As a Title I school, the school receives federal funds that assist schools with high concentrations of students in poverty.


Bossier High is certainly diverse, with a population consisting of almost 59 percent African-American, 22 percent Hispanic and 15 percent white, with Asian, American Indian and students of two or more races represented as well.


“We embrace every culture at our school and it’s one big family,” Thrash said. “We know them by name; we know them by need.”


W.T. Lewis Principal and 2020 Louisiana State Elementary Principal of the Year Lisa Burns has a school across town that is diverse in different ways. More than 20 percent of W.T. Lewis includes military-connected students as well as 34 percent of students of lower socio-economic backgrounds and 36 percent minorities.


Burns has created a culture of positivity and encouragement in her school, complete with numerous affirmations as well as some healthy competition.

“Our school is where opportunity and success becomes a reality for all students,” Burns said.


Burns added the importance of the whole family in the school environment. “We like to think of ourselves as the heartbeat of our community,” she added.

Superintendent Mitch Downey, a 35-year veteran of the Bossier Parish School system, continued to talk about the diversity of the district. Bossier Parish Schools have 15 Title I schools, which is 43 percent, and there are anywhere from 19 to 23 languages spoken in Bossier Schools (that number fluctuates based on student population).

But much of Downey’s speech to the crowd of business leaders was about partnerships.

“How do we win the day at Bossier Schools? We develop strong partnerships in the community,” Downey said.

Downey spoke about the adjustments the district is making to attendance zones so that students can stay with their same classmates from elementary school through high school, a change they worked with the Department of Justice to remedy.

The growth for the district continues to be to the east in Haughton and to the north and the district is meeting those challenges head-on, including a new wing that is coming for Haughton High School and expansions for Benton Middle and Parkway High schools.

Downey did challenge the business leaders as well to “partner with us to reward our teachers,” as the district looks for monies to increase teacher pay. In that vein, the district will begin hosting town halls to connect the community with the School District even more. The first town hall will be Nov. 14 at the Bossier Instructional Center.

HEAR ABOUT THE SUCCESSES AND CHALLENGES OF BOSSIER SCHOOLS

Leaders in education to give update at State of Ed Address

BOSSIER CITY — Education is the foundation upon which we build our future. We all know that having a strong education system is crucial in developing and sustaining a quality workforce. That’s why it’s important to stay up-to-date on all the new developments in the Bossier Parish education system. At the State of Education Address on Wednesday, Oct. 23 at 8:30 a.m., you can hear some of our finest leaders in education give an update on what is happening at Bossier Parish Schools. The breakfast address will take place at the Bossier Parish School for Technology and Innovative Learning (BPSTIL).

This event is a great opportunity to hear from 3 outstanding guest speakers including Superintendent of Bossier Schools Mitch Downey as well as Bossier High Principal David Thrash and W.T. Lewis Elementary Principal and 2019-20 Louisiana Elementary Principal of the Year Lisa Burns.

Our guest speakers will touch on topics such as:

  • Challenges and successes of Bossier Schools
  • Why K-12 education matters
  • Vision for the future of the district

While listening to these amazing guest speakers, you can enjoy a tasty breakfast prepared by the talented culinary students at BPSTIL. This is an event you don’t want to miss!

Special thanks to our sponsors Valveworks USA, Bossier Federal Credit Union, Citizens National Bank and Origin Bank.

Individual tickets are $35 and tables are also available for $600. Tickets can be purchased online at bossierchamber.com/shop or by phone at (318) 746-0252.

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BOSSIER CHAMBER HOSTS STATE OF PUBLIC SAFETY FORUM

Bossier Law Enforcement agencies join together to address business community

BOSSIER CITY— Without the help of local law enforcement agencies, the low crime statistics and a growing population would not be possible. The Bossier Chamber and sponsors Barksdale Federal Credit Union and Live Oak Environmental, LLC will host the State of Public Safety Forum at 12 p.m. on Oct. 9, 2019 at the Shane’s BBQ and Seafood.

At this luncheon various members of Bossier Parish Law Enforcement are invited to give updates on what they are doing separately and together to keep our area safe, as it affects our parish and the business climate.

“Safety is the No. 1 goal here at the Bossier Sheriff’s Office,” Sheriff Julian Whittington said. “But I can assure you there’s a lot that happens to make Bossier Parish one of the safest and premiere places to live in Louisiana.”

This event is an opportunity for members of the parish to come together and hear what is being done to keep this area as a top place to live in Louisiana.

“The State of Public Safety event is a great event for the business community and residents alike to understand how our law enforcement agencies collaborate and work together to make sure that we remain safe, we know what are the tools are out there to assist us, and also just to let the community know how hard they are working for us,” Lisa Johnson, President and CEO of the Bossier Chamber, said.

Tickets to the event are available online on the Bossier Chamber’s website.

BOSSIER CHAMBER PATRIOT AWARDS TO RECOGNIZE LOCAL FIRST RESPONDERS

Attendees will hear from Cajun Navy founder Rob Gaudet

   BOSSIER CITY — Since 2004, the Bossier Chamber of Commerce has been recognizing the courage, valor and honor of our local first responders at its annual Patriot Awards. This year, we will continue to honor our local first responders who go above and beyond the call of duty. Patriot Awards finalists and the 2019 winners will be announced at the Bossier Chamber’s 2019 Patriot Awards held on Sept. 11 at 11:30 a.m. at the Bossier Civic Center. It is presented by Willis-Knighton with Shreveport Communications serving as award sponsor. Special thanks to our platinum sponsors Citizens National Bank and Life Air Rescue.      The guest speaker for the event is Rob Gaudet, founder of CrowdRelief disaster relief social network but many know him as a creator of the Cajun Navy.
Gaudet will be discussing his leadership and courageous responsibility at this year’s awards. He is an entrepreneur and engineer who recognized that technology could connect citizens in whole new ways to help with disasters during the 2016 flooding that devastated south Louisiana. His efforts to coordinate citizen-led rescues helped thousands left stranded by rising waters. For his efforts, he was selected as 2016-2017 Louisianian of the Year.
      The purpose of this event is to honor local first responders and thank them for all they do for the community. The event first started as a festival to honor the brave in 2002, but it was transformed into an awards ceremony in 2004.
      “Since the tragedy of 9/11 and the passing of the Patriot Act, it is important for communities to continue to recognize their first responders – our silent heroes,” says Lisa Johnson, President of the Bossier Chamber of Commerce.
      Tickets and tables are available for the Patriot Awards luncheon. Tickets are $45 and tables are $800 for this premier event. Tickets are available online at bossierchamber.com/shop or by phone at (318) 746-0252.

NWLA Legislative Summit highlights wins for the state in 2019

BOSSIER CITY – The Bossier Chamber of Commerce, along with Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce, Shreveport-Bossier African American Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Minden Chamber of Commerce and NLEP (North Louisiana Economic Partnership), hosted the Northwest Louisiana Legislative Summit at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019, at CenturyLink Center.
The premise of the Northwest Louisiana Legislative Summit is to provide a look at the State of the State and provide a wrap-up of the 2019 Legislative Session. For this year’s format, we invited 14 state Legislators to participate in a panel discussion, moderated by the Council for a Better Louisiana President and CEO Barry Erwin, to talk about topics of great importance to our state: Tax Reform, Education, Infrastructure and Criminal Justice. As the top elected official in Louisiana, Governor John Bel Edwards gave the keynote address, focusing on major wins for the state, and, specifically, Northwest Louisiana. 
Panelists included state Sen. Barrow Peacock, Sen. Ryan Gatti, Rep. Wayne McMahen, Rep. Larry Bagley, and Rep. Thomas Carmody. They all spoke about the importance of the topics presented, particularly education and infrastructure, touting wins within the state to raise the MFP, giving teachers and support staff pay raises and getting money allocated for the completion of the I-49 Inner City Connector. Rep. Bagley and Sen. Peacock worked together to have the I-49 Inner City Connector added to the now $700 million state infrastructure bill. 
“Every representative and every senator from here voted for the I-49 extension,” Bagley said. “So we are all united to get I-49.”
Gov. Edwards echoed many of these wins for the state for 2019, adding the Barksdale Interchange, and our area in hosting the National  Governor’s Association’s Cyber Conference in Shreveport-Bossier. On infrastructure, the governor announced more work on Interstate 20 as well as a commitment to invest in rural bridges throughout the state, to the tune of $90 million over the next three years.
“When we work together, we can do tremendous things for Louisiana,” Edwards said. “And make sure we will leave the state the way we want it be for our children and grandchildren so they will have opportunity and prosperity here in Louisiana. That’s what our mission is.”
The Bossier Chamber of Commerce hosts the Northwest Louisiana Legislative Summit, along with our regional partners – Greater Minden Chamber of Commerce, Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce, Shreveport-Bossier African American Chamber and North Louisiana Economic Partnership – as a way to educate our membership and business community about the Legislative Session and state government. This year’s format gave our local state senators and state representatives the opportunity to speak directly to their constituents from the stage. The Summit is not and has never been a political event. The Bossier Chamber of Commerce does not endorse candidates for political office and only seeks to educate our membership and community about issues of great importance to our city, parish and region.

Bossier Chamber and business community to welcome new Bossier Parish teachers

New Teachers Luncheon helps start the school year

BOSSIER CITY— With more than 22,200 students attending Bossier Schools, the school district is one of the fastest growing districts in Louisiana in enrollment and performance. The Bossier Chamber, with sponsors Barksdale Federal Credit Union, Cyber Innovation Center and state Senator Ryan Gatti, will host a New Teachers Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. on July 25, 2019 at the Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Suites.

This luncheon is meant to welcome new teachers to Bossier Parish and show the business community’s support as they enter the Bossier Schools system for the first time in 2019.

“Showing our new teachers the Bossier community is behind them is more important than ever,” Bossier Parish Public Relations Director, Sonja Bailes said. “Fewer people are going into education, yet a high caliber teacher is shown to be the most important determinant in a student’s academic outcome.”

In addition to the luncheon, teachers will receive start-up materials and prizes from sponsors called New Teacher Supporters. Businesses can pay $175 to sponsor a new teacher to attend the luncheon. They also can offer promotional products and door prizes that can be useful for the teachers.

“By being a supporter, you are not only investing in a new teacher’s success, but our children’s futures as well,”  Bailes said. 

The Bossier Chamber recognizes the relationship between local businesses and the school system and values education as an important part of the quality of life we offer in northwest Louisiana.

UPDATED: Bossier Chamber urges School Board to withdraw tax propositions from May 4 ballot

Last Friday, the Bossier Chamber Board of Directors voted at a special called board meeting to take no position on the tax referendums on the May 4 ballot, but to offer feedback to the School Board. The Board recommended that the Bossier Parish School Board pull the propositions off the May 4, 2019 ballot and come back with a better collaborative offering. 

See our fact sheet here!

Bossier Chamber urges Bossier Parish School Board to withdraw May 4 propositions

Business Community seeks collaboration to restructure tax referendum

The Bossier Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors has recommended that the Bossier Parish School Board pull the Tax Referendums on the ballot for May 4, 2019.

Because this tax is retroactive to 2019 and would impact business and economic growth, the Board echoes the sentiments of the poll conducted of the Bossier Chamber membership that this referendum is too much of a tax burden at one time.*

Other factors include:
• Governor John Bel Edwards has proposed a statewide teacher pay raise in 2019.
• According to the Bossier Parish Tax Assessor’s office, 2020 is a reassessment year for property in Bossier Parish.
The Bossier Chamber Board seeks a solution that does not destroy the budgets of the small businesses that make this economy run, gives teachers incentives to build a great school district and gives the administration the tools it needs to recruit.

We cannot let a solvable issue divide a Bossier community that has historically been so unified.

*These two propositions are property tax millages for residents and businesses. For the business community, property tax millages mean a tax on buildings, land, inventory, machines, fixtures, furniture, equipment, etc.

State of Bossier address to highlight 2018 successes and 2019 outlook for Bossier

BOSSIER CITY – Bossier Parish and City leaders will partner with the Bossier Chamber of Commerce to present The State of Bossier Address at 11:30 a.m. on April 2 at the Hilton Garden Inn’s Garden Event Center. In its fifth year, the luncheon, presented by sponsor CHRISTUS Shreveport-Bossier Health System, will feature a panel, including Benton Mayor Shelly Horton Jr., Bossier City Mayor Lorenz “Lo” Walker, Haughton Mayor Jack Hicks as well as the 2019 Bossier Parish Police Jury President, Doug Rimmer.

Economist Dr. Harold Christensen, who has taught economics and served as the director of the Center for Economics Education at Centenary College, will lend his expertise to speak on the growth of Bossier as well. Christensen’s areas of expertise include interest rates, network economics, fleet utilization and business valuations. He will give a comparative economic analysis for Bossier City/Parish. His presentation will include train graphics that help illustrate the economic impact of this mode of transportation in our area. 

“The State of Bossier Address is a great annual event for the Chamber and for Bossier,” said Bossier Chamber of Commerce President Lisa Johnson. “This event shows our community and our region what great things are going on in Bossier and how the city and parish are emerging as leaders in innovation for our area. “But, more importantly, the State of Bossier Address shows the strong partnerships within our community and how our local leaders are working together to grow Bossier.”

Tickets to the event are available at $45 each at www.bossierchamber.com. For more information, contact the Bossier Chamber of Commerce at (318) 746-0252.###

Bossier Chamber earns U.S. Chamber’s 5-star Accreditation

BOSSIER CITY – The United States Chamber of Commerce today awarded the Bossier Chamber of Commerce with 5-Star Accreditation for its sound policies, effective organizational procedures, and positive impact on the community.

“It is a great honor to be recognized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as one of the elite chambers in the United States who receive 5-Star Accreditation,” said Lisa Johnson, President/CEO of the Bossier Chamber of Commerce. “5 stars can be looked at as an individual accomplishment for our staff, as a board accomplishment or as an investor accomplishment, but I know this could not have been done without the collaborative work we do with our partners and within our community day-in and-day out at the Bossier Chamber of Commerce.”

“It was exciting five years ago when we became a 4-Star Chamber but I knew that wasn’t the end. I knew we could be a 5-Star Chamber. With our staff and our board members, we have worked diligently for our investors to reach this goal,” Johnson said. 

Accreditation is the only national program that recognizes chambers for their effective organizational procedures and community involvement. 

“Each day, chambers of commerce are working hard to put the American dream within reach of every hardworking business owner” said Raymond P. Towle, IOM, CAE, U.S. Chamber vice president of Federation Relations and Institute for Organization Management.  “The Accreditation designation tells chamber members as well as the greater business community, this is an organization that has effective programs, sound finances, and is a strong advocate for their interests.”

In order to receive Accreditation, a chamber must meet minimum standards in their operations and programs, including areas of governance, government affairs, and technology. This extensive self-review can take 6-9 months to complete. Local chambers are rated Accredited, 3-Stars, 4-Stars, or 5-Stars. The final determination is made by the Accrediting Board, a committee of U.S. Chamber board members.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.

www.uschamber.com