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.”