Opinion: David A. Specht, Jr. – The Port of Caddo-Bossier is an economic engine for NWLA

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The Port of Caddo-Bossier is an economic engine for NWLA

Sometimes, being the Chairman of the Bossier Chamber of Commerce can be a particularly rewarding experience. A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of viewing a presentation concerning the Port of Caddo-Bossier given by Eric England, director of the Port.

The Port has a tax renewal on the ballot this Saturday. England was careful to ensure his presentation was not political in any way, but the information he shared was invaluable.
With its location south of Shreveport-Bossier, many people are unfamiliar with the Port and all it brings to our economy.

The Port is a silent engine for NWLA that has brought in more than $1B. The Port of Caddo Bossier has been a steady producer for the local economy over the past three decades and is looking to grow over the next few.

The Port Commission was created in 1962 as a governmental body that runs the port as a business, which means as a hybrid organization, it has to meet both public- and profit-oriented goals. Their public goals are job creation and dollar investment. Their profit goal is simple: ROI.

In an interview with BIZ Magazine, England said the citizens of Caddo and Bossier Parishes have contributed $80M since 1993 through a 2.5 mills dedicated property tax. The return has totaled more than $1.5 billion. Even the public funds ROI is still just under $200M. England notes, “That shows the commissioners have been wise stewards of the public’s investment.”

In addition to the monetary return, 17 companies are located at the Port’s 2,300-acre facility, bringing jobs with them. Every day, at least 1,700 arrive for work earning competitive wages and benefits to support them and their families. In addition to these 1,700 area citizens, there have also been 6,000 jobs created to support these companies and positions, bringing the total employment to 7,700.
“When the Port set forth plans to pass a property tax in 1993, the visionaries of that time estimated 5,000 jobs would be created,” England said.

So why renew the tax? The answer is simple. It is a good investment.
Moving forward, the port plans to acquire more land and expand its footprint, bringing more jobs and overall revenue to our economy. With a proven track record of success, there is no reason to doubt the trend will continue.
According to the presentation, someone with a $200,000 home pays (and would continue to pay) approximately $30 annually in taxes for the Port. That is a small price to keep paying for such a strong return.

It is often difficult to see how a tax’s use provides a return to the taxpayer. In this case, however, it is pretty easy to see. All you have to do is look at the numbers. A “yes” vote would keep the momentum going. That is why I encourage you to do so.

David A. Specht, Jr. is President & CEO of SNI Media. He is also 2016 Board Chairman of the Bossier Chamber of Commerce. He may be reached at dspecht@snimedia.com