Archive for the ‘Our Community’ Category
Housing Market Down Nationally, Booming In Shreveport/Bossier City
Shreveport/Bossier One Of Five Markets That Saw Comparative Boom In 2011
POSTED: 1:28 am CST February 6, 2012
SHREVEPORT, La — The U.S. Housing Market suffered its worst year in half a century in 2011. So far in 2012, it has failed to recover.
According to an AP source, at the end of last week, 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.89 percent, down from 4.8 percent last year. 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.24 percent, dropping from 4.09 percent last year. Several markets have seen huge declines in home values. Atlanta saw a decline of 11.8 percent, followed by Las Vegas at 9.1 percent.
While many suffered painful losses, some places saw a comparative boom. Realtor.com released a list of the five best housing markets in 2011. The Shreveport/Bossier City area ranked second, only behind Ft. Myers, FL. Our area locally saw a median list price of homes jump to $168,000, which was a 7.01% gain.
Chris LeGrand with Reality Executives in Shreveport says that one of the reasons the Shreveport/Bossier City area has thrived is the low interest rates nationally.
“Lets say seven years ago, interest rates were almost twice what they were now, over the long run that saves people thousands and thousands of dollars,” said LeGrand.
Some places have been unable to take advantage of the low rates because of a slumping economy. That hasn’t been the case in the Shreveport/Bossier City area, where the economy has continued to thrive.
The unemployment rate locally has hovered around 6 percent, well below the national average.
David Hoass, Professor of Economics in the Frost School of Business at Centenary College says that this has allowed job seekers the ability to tap into the wide variety of industry in the area. This includes the Haynesville Shale, the casinos and other staples.
“We have Barksdale Air Force Base, there not going anywhere, we have state and local government, that’s not going away,” said Hoass.
According to an AP source, with the spring home selling season on the horizon, many expect the housing market nationally could recover this year.
Military Friendly Chambers of Commerce
We honor the chambers creating local opportunities for vetrepreneurs.
Susan Balla, the chamber’s executive director, stressed the chamber’s recognition of the value of veterans.
“Whether they’re in the field protecting us or in their business promoting economic development in or communities, the veteran community is a very special group of individuals,” Balla said. “They make excellent business owners because of their military training, their skills sets and their passion.”
Being Military Friendly Makes Sense for Chambers
The chamber of commerce as an advocate for local businesses has been around since the first chamber was founded in Marseilles, France, in 1566. The first American chamber was founded in New York City in 1768. Over the years that number expanded to more than 7,800, according to the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE).
Chambers are always looking for ways to increase the value to its members. Identifying a business as veteran-owned allows the 70 percent of American consumers who want to buy veteran the opportunity to do just that. NaVOBA sent representatives to the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) national conference last year who worked with executives from all over the country to help bring the Buy Veteran movement to cities and towns across America. There were a surprising number of chambers that were already actively promoting various programs aimed at fostering veteran-entrepreneurship, hiring veterans and promoting local veteran-owned firms.
“Veterans failure rate as business owners is much less than the traditional business owner because of their work ethic,” Balla said. “They believe in and follow a business plan. They serve as excellent mentors to other business owners. They believe in the sense of community and support their endeavors.”
Military Friendly Chambers
Lisa Johnson takes her commitment to America’s military men and women seriously. As president of the Bossier Chamber of Commerce in Bossier City, Louisiana, Johnson’s ideology permeates the chamber’s philosophy as well.
“It’s critical to keep the American Dream alive,” Johnson said. “The men and women of our Armed Forces fight for our freedom – the freedom to be an entrepreneur, the freedom to own a company, the freedom to stimulate the economy and the freedom to give back to a community and our nation.”
Johnson is by no means alone in this sentiment. Chamber executives across the country recognize how vetrepreneurs impact their communities as well as their chambers.
“At the Bossier Chamber of Commerce, we have always honored ourmen and women at Team Barksdale through awards and giving back,” Johnson said. “In recent years, we have invited the business community to join us in partnering in ways that benefit all. By offering military-friendly initiatives it shows that we are ‘boots on the ground’ for our Armed Forces.”
The Bossier Chamber of Commerce is one of 20 chambers nationwide recognized by NaVOBA as one of the 2012 Military Friendly Chambers of Commerce for its dedication to fostering veterans entrepreneurship and creating programs to promote the Buy Veteran message in their communities.
The bottom line: Being military friendly helps chambers attract new members who are veteran business owners and highlight chambers’ efforts to support the military community.
“Chambers around the country should develop programs or initiatives involving veterans because as an organization that represents the community, our veteran population is a huge segment of the community,” Balla said. “We also need to recognize the value and skill sets they bring to the business world. It will also help veterans connect with one another, identify themselves and work as mentors to one another. Work force development is a key component to weathering the next era of business development in our communities. Veterans can be that next catalyst.”
Lyle Butler, president of the Manhattan, Kan. Chamber of Commerce echoed those sentiments.
“These men and women have given so much for our country that creating opportunities for them is a huge part of what we do,” Butler said.
The Manhattan chamber has heightened its focus on the military and veteran community over the last six years, Butler said. The chamber hired a full-time military coordinator as an integral part of those efforts. Part of the military coordinator’s job is to build relationships with military families and veterans groups in the Manhattan area.
“We want to know that these folks are transient and we want to go out of the way to get to know them and let them get to know us while they’re here,” Butler said. “We work to help [military] spouses find jobs and we make presentations to the folks who are retiring to try to encourage them to stay in our area of the country whether it’s to earn an education or helping them start businesses.”
What are Some of These Military Friendly Programs?
As part of its Right Start Orientation, the Bossier chamber attends and presents to all new Barksdale Airmen and civilian Department of Defense personnel twice a month as a guest of the Airmen and Family Readiness Center at Barksdale Air Force Base. The Bossier Chamber also partners with the Shreveport-Bossier Tourist Bureau to inform military personnel of the multitude of fun and tourist activities associated with Bossier/Shreveport and the surrounding areas.
In addition, as part of its Air Force Global Strike Spouses’ Orientation, the Bossier chamber meets with spouses and shares information about the Bossier school system, volunteer opportunities and church listings. It also holds a quarterly job fair for all military ID holders and through its Military Relations committee is proud to present awards on behalf of the businesses in the Bossier/Shreveport area that donate to the Airmen of the Month and Airmen of the Quarter award ceremonies.
In partnership with the Shreveport Chamber of Commerce, the Bossier chamber coordinates a program that allows business merchants in the area to display a sticker in their front door or window advertising they offer a military discount to all military ID holders. In conjunction with the stickers for businesses, a publication will be produced with a list of all the merchants that take part in the program. This publication will be available at the Bossier and Shreveport chambers, as well as distributed on Barksdale AFB.
Balla said that even though her chamber is not located directly near a major military base, the chamber’s military initiatives are still a top priority.
“It is certainly a differentiator for us to our members, community and our sponsors,” Balla said. “We have a Veterans Task Force that continually looks at programs we feel the veteran communities are asking for or that the community has identified as needed support programs to assist the veterans. We currently hold a quarterly ‘Transition Forward’ one-day seminar designed to assist veterans of all ages, ranks and employment status in developing good résumés, interview skills and mock interviews.”
This class is also open to military spouses and children. The program is sponsored by a veteran-directed staffing company. The program is taught by a Naval Academy graduate as well as a Marine veteran. And the chamber assists veterans in interpretation of military to civilian skills.
“We also bring in our veteran-owned business owners to assist them in interviews and potential employment opportunities,” Balla said. “We also are trying to serve the role of a conduit to all of the programs offered to veterans in our community. We want to provide the veteran with a road map for success.”
Finding the Most Military Friendly Chambers
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s efforts to support military service members, along with initiatives like the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes program have captured the attention of the more than 3 million veteran-owned businesses and 7,000 chambers across the country. As a result of multiple inquiries, NaVOBA, in cooperation with ACCE, conducted a survey to highlight military-friendly chambers. The chambers gracing the list stood out from the crowd in the following areas:
Aurora Chamber of Commerce
Aurora, Colo. • www.aurorachamber.org
Bossier Chamber of Commerce
Bossier City, La. • www.bossierchamber.com
Burlington County Chamber of Commerce
Mt. Laurel, N.J. • www. bccoc.com
Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce
El Paso, Texas • www.elpaso.org
Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce
Miami, Fla. • www.miamichamber.com
Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce
Oswego, N.Y. • www.oswegofultonchamber.com
Knoxville Chamber of Commerce
Knoxville, Tenn. • www.knoxvillechamber.com
Lehi Area Chamber of Commerce
Lehi, Utah • www.lehiareachamber.org
Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce
Manhattan, Kan. • www.manhattan.org
Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce
Minneapolis, Minn. • www.minneapolischamber.org
Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce
Nashville, Tenn. • www.nashvillechamber.com
Pasadena Chamber of Commerce
Pasadena, Texas • www.pasadena-chamber.org
Pensacola Bay Chamber of Commerce
Pensacola, Fla. • www.pensacolachamber.com
Prince William Chamber of Commerce
Manassas, Va. • www.pwchamber.org
South Shore Chamber of Commerce
Quincy, Mass. • www.southshorechamber.org
Spearfish Area Chamber of Commerce
Spearfish, S.D. • www.spearfishchamber.org
Torrance Chamber of Commerce
Torrance, Calif. • www.torrancechamber.com
Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce
Quakertown, Pa. • www.ubcc.org
Wexford/Cranberry Chamber of Commerce
Wexford, Pa. • www.thechamberinc.com
Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce
Williamsport, Pa. • www.williamsport.org
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is probing whether lenders may have illegally foreclosed on mortgages of active-duty members of the military, the Financial Times reported Wednesday.
The paper said data released last week by the US Treasury’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, could show that 10 major lenders may have seized the homes of of about 5,000 service members. If confirmed, the seizures would violate the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, which protects servicemembers from civil lawsuits or foreclosures while they are on active duty.
The FT attributed its story to people familiar with the matter. It said a spokesman for Schneiderman declined to comment.
In May, Bank of America Corp. and Morgan Stanley agreed to pay more than $22 million combined to settle federal civil charges that they improperly foreclosed on 178 military personnel, some of whom were serving in the Iraq or Afghanistan wars. The settlement was the largest amount recovered in a case of improper military foreclosures.