Alliance focuses on next generation

By By Lance Traweek / American Press

For a year, she has met with area officials and volunteers to talk about how Southwest Louisiana can become more attractive

for the “next generation.”

In two weeks, Rebecca Ryan of Next

Generation Consulting will present her findings to the Southwest

Louisiana Economic Development

Alliance, part of creating a strategic plan for the area.

“The purpose of the Next Generation Initiative is to keep young people here and to make the region more attractive to retaining

our young people and more attractive to newcomers,” said George Swift, president and CEO of the development alliance.

The initiative’s focus, according to a news release announcing the effort:

“Bridging the leadership gap by engaging young professionals.”

“Diversifying employment opportunities.”

“Building a stronger infrastructure for better connectivity.”

“Increasing the population of Lake Charles to 100,000 to spark commerce and growth.”

“Creating more community support for McNeese State University.”

“Establishing SWLA as a destination for those passing through on I-10.”

One project includes establishing a dog park in downtown Lake Charles.

“Several sites are being reviewed as

possibilities for a home to the outdoor park,” Emily Stine, Next

Generation Advocate

at the Alliance, has said. “This would be an exciting amenity for

the downtown area, promoting walkability and contributing

to the appeal of the stroll district.”

One task force advocates the importance of showing support of the local university through the distribution of “McNeese pride”

placards.

Other projects include promoting bike paths through the Lake Charles Planning Office, supporting the establishment of a golf

course in DeRidder and supporting recycling efforts in the five-parish region.

The initiative also encourages a cultural economy in Southwest Louisiana by streamlining the arts and businesses.

Ryan was the keynote speaker at last

year’s chamber banquet and the keynote speaker at the Next Generation

luncheon in August

at L’Auberge Casino Resort, which has joined forces with the

Alliance to support the initiative. According to Ryan’s website,

she is “one part economist, one part futurist and one part

humorist.”

“The mantras of Live First, Work Second as well as Creative Place Making have become two commonly used phrases amongst a driven

group of young professionals as well as a growing number of other locals in Southwest Louisiana,” Stine has said.

“Since the summer, momentum has continued to build and through the continual focus and advocacy work of volunteers in the

Next Generation Community, bold steps have been taken toward making several of the group’s visions a reality.”