When Cedric Glover took the reins as mayor of Shreveport in 2006, things were looking up for this northern Louisiana city of 201,000 people. After betting on the gaming industry, the city had become Louisiana's second most popular tourism destination after New Orleans.

The area saw the opening of Louisiana Boardwalk, a large entertainment complex across the river from Shreveport, in 2005, and a new convention centre in 2007. These projects promised to raise revenues from tourism even higher. But the global financial crisis took adversely affected Shreveport's growing tourism sector.

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To make matters worse, in 2012 General Motors shut down its local car plant that in its heyday had employed 3000 people. No wonder, then, that Mr Glover sees his role as the city's leading economic developer as “secondary only to issues connected with public safety and properly managing the public [purse]”.

High on the agenda

While it is one thing to recognise the need to put economic development high on the agenda, it is entirely another to secure new investments and jobs, says Mr Glover. “One of the challenges that elected officials like myself have to overcome is thinking that we know everything,” says Mr Glover. 

“When it comes to investment promotion, you have to accept the fact that, unless you are coming from the ranks of the professional economic development community, you are not a subject matter expert,” he says.

To gain a better understanding of the inner workings of the world of investment attraction, Mr Glover began attending meetings of International Economic Development Council (IEDC), a non-profit organisation for economic developers. “There is probably nothing more frustrating and more [problematic] than having to deal with elected leaders that do not have knowledge, appreciation and respect for the economic development process, hence my involvement in IEDC,” says Mr Glover.

Impressive legacy

Mr Glover will leave his post at the end of the year due to a limit on his time as mayor, but he will leave a strong FDI legacy. In September 2013, French information and communications technology firm Teleperformance announced it would create 740 jobs in Shreveport. Shortly after, Austrian manufacturing and engineering firm Benteler International broke ground for its $975m steel manufacturing project in the city. Most recently, US start-up automaker Elio Motors bought the car plant abandoned by General Motors and announced plans to employ 1500 people by the end of 2015.

“Everyone wants to bring home the bacon, but you have to recognise that it is not something you do alone,” says Mr Glover.