Acadiana's City of the Year: Lake Charles
Explosive Growth Didn't Happen by Accident
Photos Courtesy of Monsors Photography; The National Hurrican Museum; Romero & Romero Photography
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What does it take to make a good city great? This is the question Lake Charles city leaders asked in the early 2000s. Today, less than a decade after government, business and nonprofit leaders embarked on an ambitious program, the town and its surrounding parishes are welcoming a whopping $42 billion in new industry over the next few years.
It is because of this staggering growth, while retaining a good quality of life, that Acadiana Profile magazine names Lake Charles its City of the Year.
“Lake Charles and its 72,000 residents make up the urban center of a five-parish area called Southwest Louisiana,” says Randy Roach, mayor of Lake Charles for the past 12 years. “We can’t do anything without a coordinated effort of all five parishes. We’re like a family. We may have disagreements, but we work together behind closed doors and come out with a unified voice.”
Anyone who lives in Lake Charles – or who has spent any time there recently – knows one thing for sure: This city and its surrounding parishes’ explosive economic growth didn’t happen by accident.
“I don’t think there is a city of our size in America that can claim this type of success,” says David Conner of the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance. In the next few years, the Lake Charles area will welcome nearly 6,000 new jobs, more than 18,000 construction jobs and nearly 8,000 indirect jobs, including:
- SASOL Ltd.: Its gas-to-liquid facility, a $10.5 billion investment, will add 850 new jobs and 4,000 indirect jobs, with an average salary of $89,000. More than 5,500 construction jobs will take part in building the facility. SASOL’s Ethylene Cracker/Derivatives Complex will be a $4.5 billion capital investment and add 400 to 500 new jobs. The company’s Ethylene Tetramerization Unit will add another 36 jobs to its existing 350 and require a capital investment of $175 million.
- Cheniere Energy in Cameron Parish will add 148 new jobs to its existing 77 and make an $11 billion capital investment.
- Sempra/Cameron LNG will add 130 new jobs to its 60 existing and 610 indirect jobs with average salaries of $80,000 per year. Its capital investment is $6 billion.
- Leucadia National Corp. LC Cogeneration will add 200 new jobs to the area and make a $2.6 billion investment.
- Energy Transfer Equity/Trunkline LNG will add 100 new jobs for its $5.7 billion investment.