Shreveport Dead Last In Recent Study
When I opened my e-mail this morning, there was one subject line that just glared out at me: "Shreveport is 2017's Slowest-Growing City In America". My first reaction was, "Sez who?" I've been in the radio business all my adult life and one thing that those in my profession are familiar with is research. If you look at research numbers long enough, you can find one area where your station is #1. It may be with 38-year-old mustachioed men who prefer to shop at Goodwill and who still live in their parents' basements, but, by golly, it's still #1!
I wasn't going to take this bold headline at face value, so I opened it up. My first clue that this wasn't going to turn out well was the fact that the study was done by WalletHub. This free-credit-check website is known in the industry for compiling exhaustive reports with the guidance of a panel of experts. The experts consulted in this particular survey included 6 college professors, a retired president of the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, and the Director of the Indiana Business Research Center. The professors come from a variety of disciplines including ecology, economics, architecture, and law. Suffice it to say, these folks know their stuff.
To put the study together WalletHub looked at the 515 largest cities in the U.S. and evaluated them in two areas: "Sociodemographics" and "Jobs and Economy". These key areas include factors such as population growth, working-age population growth, job growth, household income growth, increase in number of businesses, median house price growth, and poverty rate decrease.
When I went inside the study to look at the findings, the numbers for Shreveport are nothing short of abysmal.
- 487th – Population Growth
- 428th – Median Household Income Growth
- 494th – Job Growth
- 515th – Poverty Rate Decrease
- 92nd – Growth in Number of Businesses
- 498th – Working-Age Population Growth
- 186th – Median House Price Growth
Shrevport's overall rank: 515
That's dead last.
Part of me can't blame Mayor Tyler for trying to bring some life to the city with the failed sports arena proposal. But there's another part that feels just like the City Council which voted unanimously to deny a resolution to explore spending $30 million to build the facility. Is the Shreveport community in any shape fiscally to support such a venture?
I do believe that the answer lies downtown. Cities like Austin, Waco, and Oklahoma City have injected life into their communities by revitalizing their downtown areas. Having recently moved to Shreveport from Wichita, Kansas, I'm familiar with the efforts being made there to rebuild downtown.
The similarities between Wichita and Shreveport are striking. Both have recently lost major manufacturing jobs when the areas' biggest employers moved out. For Shreveport it was GM pulling out in 2012. For Wichita it was the departure of Boeing in 2014. There are positive signs that Wichita is rebounding just 3 years after Boeing pulled all operations out of the city it had called home since 1927. So, there is hope for Shreveport.
I won't lose much sleep over this latest study, because I know there are those that have a tremendous love for this city I now call home. We have leaders who are committed to growing the Shreveport area and I'm hopeful that the city will rebound. Can't say that I'm confident yet, but "hopeful" is a start.