The Bossier Chamber of Commerce has been hosting focus group/listening sessions in the Plain Dealing community this spring. On Monday, April 24, the Chamber hosted a focus group with Plain Dealing High School juniors and seniors to talk about the needs and the future of the town.
Approximately 20 students participated in the session, giving the Chamber insight into things they would like to see in their town.
“After we hosted two listening sessions in Plain Dealing, we noticed we didn’t have any school-age people in attendance and we really wanted to hear from the students, who represent the future of Plain Dealing,” said Jessica Hemingway, Vice President of the Bossier Chamber and project manager of the Plain Dealing Community Development project. “The adults at the earlier sessions even made the observation that one reason the town has been shrinking is because it cannot retain its young people. So, we went to the young people and asked them: What would it take for you to stay in Plain Dealing or return to Plain Dealing one day?”
Many of the students noted that children of all ages needed more things to do – afterschool and otherwise – in the town. And, the students were quick to note they wanted the town to grow, which would help the area get more things like more restaurants, clothing stores, a gym and more classes at the school.
The young people echoed what many of the adults said in the realm of workforce development as well: there are not many jobs there and they do not pay very well. But, to go further, the teenagers noted there were no jobs for them – now – in the town, and the ones who work have to drive elsewhere to be employed.
While much of the conversation did focus on things the students felt like the town needed, the bright spots, in their opinion, centered around the tight-knit and safe community they have in Plain Dealing.
The Bossier Chamber plans to submit a comprehensive community report to the full town at another community meeting, planned for June 2023. The plan will give the town people short and long term goals that the residents and elected officials together can work on to address what residents said were their priorities.