On July 9, 2014, nearly 60 participants gathered at SOWELA Technical Community College to share information and learn about energy investments that will bring billions of dollars and thousands of in-demand energy jobs to the region.
President Obama has called 2014 a “year of action” to ensure opportunity for all Americans, and the Department of Energy is working to help expand economic opportunities for residents in Southwest Louisiana. This July, my office and the U.S Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency convened a forum in the City of Lake Charles with small and minority businesses, educational institutions, lawmakers and industry to discuss workforce development and supplier diversity opportunities related to the mega energy projects planned in the area.
Nearly 60 participants gathered at SOWELA Technical Community College to share information and learn about energy investments that will bring billions of dollars and thousands of in-demand energy jobs to the region. These projects will require new suppliers, engineers, welders, construction workers and more. Several of the industry leaders have also made commitments to focus on diversity in their supplier contacts and employee hiring to provide opportunities to the local workforce.
Participants included the Mayor’s Office of Lake Charles, community and technical colleges and local universities, Associated Building Contractors, the Southwest Louisiana Construction Users Council, the Southwest Louisiana Entrepreneurial and Economic Development Center, the Southern Region Minority Supplier Diversity Council, Magnolia LNG, Cameron LNG, Cheniere Energy, and Sempra.
Angela Washington, a Department of Commerce business development specialist, said at the forum that industry leaders in Lake Charles are receptive to understanding how to work best with minority communities, making sure that job seekers know what skills will be needed to fill these upcoming positions.
We are already seeing impressive action from the City of Lake Charles on engaging diverse communities in future energy sector jobs. The Safety Council of Southwest Louisiana created Vendor Vet, a business registration system so industry has access to the services and capabilities of local diverse businesses. Three local small business centers and Louisiana Economic Development are ready to provide technical assistance and capacity building training to diverse businesses.
My office and the Department of Commerce will develop a fact sheet on the industry supplier diversity registration sites to inform businesses in Southwest Louisiana of contracting opportunities. Local small business centers will also help entrepreneurs develop skills and certifications in preparation for new energy infrastructure projects in Southwest Louisiana.
The Administration’s Ready to Work report highlights the national need to equip American workers with the necessary skills for a 21st century economy. We know here at the Department of Energy that the energy sector is a critical element to our future that will drive national security and economic prosperity by ensuring diverse communities have access to these opportunities.