Poised for growth: West Calcasieu Parish blossoming with new businesses, industrial developments

Published 9:40 am Wednesday, January 11, 2023

West of the Calcasieu River the business and industry outlook is good. From a new casino in Westlake to a clothing boutique in Sulphur that meets the needs of a “big” market, West Cal is poised for growth. Mandy Thomas, West Calcasieu Chamber of Commerce Chair, said The Chamber participated in the following grand openings the last quarter of 2022, the credit union Access of Louisiana, Enterprise, The Horseshoe Casino, Pelican State Credit Union, Queens of Kings Men’s Grooming, SWLA Sports Rehab Physical and Occupational Therapy and Thick and Sassy Boutique, a clothing store for plus-sized women and for men who wear size large and up.

Biolab, the second largest supplier of chemicals used to make chlorine products, reopened in November after being shuttered due to hurricane damage in 2020.

The ‘50s Diner is one of the newest eateries to open in Westlake at 1115 Sampson St. In Sulphur, Insane Sausages recently announced it will have a second location in Sulphur at 303 S. Cities Service Hwy. in Sulphur. Home Building Materials, 435 E. Napoleon St. plans to open its new, expanded location in March.

Email newsletter signup

Westlake’s new mayor, Hal McMillin, said plans are in motion to help clean up the city, help current businesses be the best they can be and solicit new businesses, a second grocery store and new franchises, in particular.

“The Horseshoe Casino presents a tremendous opportunity for Westlake, supplying much-needed revenue for future city enhancements. Mayor Bob Hardey made a lot of tough decisions to get this city out of the red and running efficiently. Now is the time to build on that.”

During the swearing-in ceremony, McMillin announced the city’s new motto, “Our time is now.”

Media Post, an aerial cinematography, commercial and motion picture business, was located in Lake Charles for 30 years. Now it is in Westlake. Owner Chris Lognion said a property became available that made the ideal studio space. His clients – and many are industrial – are located west of the river and he lives in Westlake. He described what’s happening in Westlake lately as a “golden opportunity.”

“It’s never going to be as big as Lake Charles,” he said. “But the Sampson Street corridor is not going to stop getting busier than it is right now any time soon.”

Sulphur Mayor Mike Danahay said Sulphur initially experienced a downturn in business activity but from adversity comes opportunity. “In the last year we have experienced an upswing in permits and occupational licenses for new and existing businesses. One of these businesses is Enterprise.

Matt Brady, Enterprise Vice President/General Manager said the former Sulphur location was extensively damaged by the hurricane, and the new location at 4145 E. Napoleon St. was a strategic choice.

“It will support a variety of industries including construction, oil and gas, disaster relief as well as personal rentals,” Brady said.

The branch provides access to a wide range of both car and truck rental solutions, and will help better serve customers and make rentals more accessible in a “thriving” area.

Industrial growth

Mayor Danahay anticipates that the future development of the Tellurian Driftwood LNG mega project will have a direct positive impact on the City of Sulphur and the Carlyss area.

Jim Rock, Executive Director for Lake Area Industry Alliance added this nugget of positive outlook for continued industry growth just over the bridge from Lake Charles: “The geology of SWLA west of the river is ideal for carbon sequestration. (Carbon sequestration is the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide with the goal of reducing global climate change.) “A pipeline was recently permitted to carry carbon from industrial and other sources to locations for permanent sequestration.”

This will provide future stable employment while helping our region and state accomplish climate objectives, according to Rock. The hub, located in western Calcasieu Parish, can store up to 80 million tons of CO2 or 2.7 million tons per year for 30 years. “It will be the largest hub in the U.S.,” he added.

Just Imagine

Southwest Louisiana recently completed its resilience Master Plan for quality of life enhancements that will positively impact the region for decades after receiving a generous gift from Angela and David Filo to the Community Foundation.

Rock, a member of the Just Imagine board, pointed out that implementation is down the road – eight to 10 years – but it does include plans for Westlake and Sulphur.

“Waterfront Development is one of the Ten Catalytic Projects proposed as part of the plan,” explained Jill Galmarini, Community Foundation/Just Imagine Director of Civic Initiatives.

The region’s waterfronts are an untapped asset for quality of life and economic development. During community outreach meetings, the Just Imagine SWLA team received feedback from the public that developing the waterfront from the Horseshoe Casino in Westlake into Westlake is a priority for the community.

In Sulphur, Galmarini said officials are interested in continuing to beautify the downtown area and attract more visitors downtown with the addition of  retail, dining and public events.