We’re all rooting for Lake Charles, especially those in southeastern Louisiana who remember the painful rebirth of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
So it was heartening to hear two announcements that mean new investment and confidence for the storm-battered communities of southwestern Louisiana.
Lake Charles and its environs suffered through two devastating hurricanes last year, including Laura, the fiercest storm to hit Louisiana since before the Civil War.
The community got one piece of good news last month with the announcement of a $20 million plan to repurpose a six-story lakefront parking garage as part of a new children’s museum and science and nature center.
Across the Calcasieu River in Westlake, BioLab, a manufacturer of chlorine tablets, plans a $143 million facility to replace a plant destroyed in a spectacular fire in the wake of Laura.
The museum and nature center complex, called Port Wonder, was in the works before the hurricanes, but Mayor Nic Hunter says it more vital than ever.
“I believe that this project has taken on a new meaning and a new spirit to where it's not only about lakefront development, but it's about the resiliency of this community and the recovery of this community,” he said.
“It's about recovery. It's about aesthetics. But it's also about tourism. It's also about economy. And we believe that this is going to be a catalyst for lakefront development.”
Across the lake, BioLab is rebuilding and expanding, with the aim of creating 71 new jobs in addition to the 30 already existing. The firm reportedly laid off around 100 workers following the fire, which took three days to extinguish.
Lake Charles will need much more federal help to get back on its feet, with Gov. John Bel Edwards and our delegation in Congress working on it, but it’s encouraging to see investment — and confidence — returning to this deserving community.