The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) president, Stephen Waguespack, met with members of the chamber of commerce today. Waguespack discussed Louisiana’s economy and the recent legislative session in Baton Rouge. He also spoke on local business.
“While we're out here talking about what's happening in Baton Rouge and the capital, I’m also here to listen and understand the challenges they're facing and how we can make their (small business owners) jobs easier," Waguespack says 80% of LABI’s members are small business owners. “Small business is the backbone of Louisiana’s economy, I mean that is absolutely what drives a lot of our growth and investment in Louisiana."
Callie Mckeever’s mom owns the Monroe Mercantile on Forsythe Avenue and says it’s rough for all small businesses here in Monroe.
"I think everyone is struggling right now with the internet, you can buy just about anything in this store online, and it’s just not handmade," Mckeever said.
She also said the Mercantile is continuing to grow now that they moved their shop from West Monroe to Monroe. “We're continuing to grow, people always walk in and say we didn't know you were here and shop around and everything."
Sue Nicholson is the president of the Chamber of Commerce and says that the future of business is bright, but workforce development is an issue.
"I think it's good, we've had a lot of job growth, and our unemployment is down," said Nicholson. "I think our big challenge is going to be workforce development, providing the workforce that our businesses need."
Nicholson says that the chamber is working with local high schools and Delta Community College on workforce development in Monroe.