Go Group discusses potential road troubles

By By John Guidroz / American Press

Identifying which road intersections need improvement within the region was one of several recommendations made during a meeting

Tuesday with members of the Southwest Louisiana Task Force for Growth and Opportunity, or Go Group.

Jennifer Wallace, Calcasieu Parish

assistant planning director, said the co-chairs of the group’s 10

appointed subcommittees

met with the steering committee to discuss preparing for the

challenges that are expected once several high-dollar industrial

projects get underway. The Go Group formed after Sasol announced

in December that it would spend nearly $21 billion to expand

its Westlake facility.

The subcommittees focus on issues like

workforce development, education, transportation, housing, utilities,

environment,

health, public safety, small-business development and community

relations. The steering committee is made up of several municipalities

within Calcasieu Parish.

“Some of the recommendations the steering committee are hearing are large-scale projects, but others can be done quickly to

address the needs of the community,” Wallace said.

Wallace said Grant Bush, executive

director of the Imperial Calcasieu Regional Planning and Development

Commission, recommended

finding ways to quickly acquire federal or state funding to

improve certain roadways. Bush is a co-chair of the transportation

subcommittee.

Gerald Hoffpauir, manager of Ward 1 Waterworks District 1 and co-chair of the utilities subcommittee, talked about notifying

utility providers early on about the time and location of upcoming economic development projects.

Wallace said the providers can assess which utilities need to be enhanced. “It’s all a matter of coordinating everything for

these companies so they have a smooth process coming here,” she said.

She said Adrian Wallace, co-chair of the small-business subcommittee, stressed the need to connect small businesses with the

larger companies so they can assist one another.

“These large companies want to deal with local people,” she said. “But right now there’s a gap in that relationship where

small businesses don’t know who to call and large businesses don’t know who can actually serve their needs.”

Jennifer Wallace said the community relations subcommittee suggested creating a campaign through a brochure or a website to

remind residents of how the growth from these development projects could change their daily routines.

“The way we would envision it is that

if it takes you 20 minutes to get to work now, you may need to leave 10

minutes early

with the extra traffic,” she said. “The region wants jobs and

development and forward progress, but we need to get the word

out about what the growing pains could be.”

Wallace said people serving on the subcommittees include local experts who are volunteering their time to prepare for the

challenges that come with economic growth.

“They need to be commended for working

so hard for this effort and caring for the future of this region,” she

said. “I think

that we’re very fortunate to have community leaders and elected

officials who are taking such a proactive position on this.”