Business Cover

Making the Lafayette-Lake Charles Connection

by Leslie Turk

Officials in both regions working to help Acadiana residents and business owners find work in the Lake area.

In preparation for an early November meeting with various companies hiring hundreds of workers in the Lake Charles market, Lafayette officials did some digging into unemployment data for the Acadiana region. At that time, they found that 8,500 people who formerly worked in the manufacturing, construction, extraction and transportation sectors were drawing unemployment and might be interested in the vast array of westward job opportunities, Lafayette Economic Development Authority Manager of Workforce Development Ryan LaGrange tells ABiz. “That means they lost their job through no fault of their own and were in those particular occupational areas,” he says.

Included in the effort to put them to work were representatives of LEDA, One Acadiana, the Louisiana Workforce Commission, South Louisiana Community College and the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, LaGrange says. The Acadiana-area Workforce Commission reps, Brenda Hubbard and Cortney Breaux, are helping to match local workers with the jobs, and the community college is looking to play a role for anyone who might need rapid-course training. “We want to work together to identify if there are skills gaps with current students or individuals who have been laid off locally that our community colleges can quickly address through a certification or training course,” LaGrange explains. “The community colleges along with the local Workforce Commission office will work together to develop a screening tool and come up with a plan to enroll students in rapid-course training. So there are a lot of moving parts.”

LaGrange says George Swift and his staff at the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance helped to identify the companies that participated in the meeting. “We called the meeting to ... try to see where the matches were. Some of the craft trades, like in the area of welding, are really going to start picking up early 2016,” LaGrange says. “The higher wage occupations are the ones that will be coming in the first quarter, but they have a current need for some of the other laborers and other construction trade positions, and a lot of the oilfield extraction and manufacturing folks that were laid off in our region have some of those skills.”

“It was a brainstorming, initial meeting,” LaGrange notes, though he stresses that some laid off workers have already landed positions. “The other side is potentially doing an event in the first quarter, when they really start ramping up some of those other craft [jobs] ... to do a recruitment event in this area to match up job seekers with companies directly.”

LaGrange also tells ABiz another initiative is underway to help local companies seeking opportunities in the Lake Charles area.

Lake Charles-Area Job Opportunities

Contractor: Turner Industries
Ben Bourgeois at [email protected]
• Combo Welders
• Pipefitters - NCCER certifi cation
• Riggers
• Machinists/Millwrights
• Scaffold Builders
• Electrical contractors - Triad and MMR

Performance Contractors
Ernest “Demp” Suchanek at [email protected]
• Same as Turner Industries

Cameron LNG
Contractor: EPC – CB&I
Paschal Malone at [email protected]
• Civil Workers - concrete form and finishers
• Equipment Operators
• Steel Erecting/Scaffolding
• Welders, Journeymen, Helpers
• Pipefi tters

Cheniere LNG
Contractor: EPC – Bechtel Corp
Bob Deatherage at [email protected]
• Pipefitters - NCCER certifi cations
• Welders
• Helpers
• Equipment Operators

Source: LEDA