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Investing in Southwest Louisiana workforce

Last Modified: Saturday, January 19, 2013 8:11 PM

By Eric Cormier / American Press

SULPHUR — Anticipating the local workforce would only grow and become more diverse, Business Health Partners decided to invest in technology and equipment.

One of the first steps the company took to make it more user friendly was beginning steps to provide online training courses.

Company officials also invested in mobile equipment that would allow their staff to conduct on-site physical tests.

Erin Davison, a training coordinator for Business Health Partners, said the company’s investment is smart.

“Why are we doing these things? Because of expansion and growth within the local economy. It was common sense. Things here are going to boom, and our area is going to grow. I anticipate us being larger than Lafayette in 10 years,” she said.

At the rate that billion-dollar projects — which in turn will create temporary and permanent jobs — are being announced in Calcasieu and Cameron parishes, Davison’s opinion may not be far-fetched, lending credence to Business Health Partners owners’ decision to invest in their company.

According to Davison, the company has been tweaking services to provide clients what they want and need.

Because of the growing number of Spanish-speaking employees that are being hired, Business Health Partners invested in a Spanish-language safety instructor and plans to provide online training sessions in Spanish, too.

“The migrant workforce has grown because there are jobs here. We started working with a company in Orange (Texas) that is associated with the oil and pipeline industry. A large number of their workers are Hispanic. We saw a need for providing training then,” she said. “The need is there. That is a population, regardless of language, that is working in industry and has to be trained in order to step foot on a job site.”

Tyson Hickey, a representative with AltairStrickland, said construction jobs from Houston to Lake Charles are keeping the company busy. The company does training in Corpus Christi, Texas, and looks for potential employees.

AltairStrickland, is a turnaround contracting and management firm based in La Porte, Texas, and operates an office in Sulphur.

Hickey said the company does specialized work and as a result, does not always have a large workforce active at one time.

“We come in and plan, schedule and even subcontract work out,” he said. “As a result, issues like housing is not a big focus for us.”

Hickey said industrial contractors and service providers know that the region is booming.

He referred to a story at www.industrialinfo.com (based in Sugar Land, Texas) that estimates at $56 billion the cost of capital and turnaround projects at industrial facilities in Texas and Louisiana in 2013.

“The highest-value industries for the two states are the Oil & Gas Production and Chemical Processing industries which account for $13.2 billion and $12.5 billion, respectively,” the article reads. “Much of the value of the Oil & Gas Production projects from planned liquefied natural gas production facilities, which require federal approval to proceed. These include Sempra LNG’s grassroot LNG liquefaction plant in Hackberry, Louisiana, which has an estimated total investment value of $6 billion.”

Global Management Enterprises in Lake Charles is a company that provides services like employment screenings and criminal background checks.

Dalia Matheus, the company’s president, said discussions are being held among private industry leaders regarding the economic growth that is occurring in the region.

As a result, Matheus is making adjustments in her business to meet the potential onslaught that service providers like herself will face. She did not go into detail about the changes being made within her company due to the competitive nature of the industry.

“But as a company we are very excited. I’m excited to see new business that will come into the community because that will increase the need for business and employment services,” she said.

Matheus said the number of people applying for industrial and service-related jobs is increasing.

More training opportunities need to be created in order to meet the needs of industrial and service industry providers, she said.

“That is one of the things we all need to focus on. Also, I think housing is a big-time issue, and we need to get ready for that.”

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