Like a Boss has featured several local business owners and entrepreneurs, but you can’t talk about Bossier and business without talking to a guy who is basically the boss of Bossier City. This month will see a change of pace as we talk to Mayor Lorenz “Lo” Walker.
Arguably “Mr. Bossier,” Lo Walker described himself as Chief Executive Officer for Bossier City. This means he oversees 69,000 people, 700 employees, and a steady flow of visitors and tourists.
“I can’t say enough about how good a job our department heads and employees are doing.”
He must be doing a good job, too, as he was sworn into his fourth consecutive term as mayor at the beginning of July. His long history with Bossier City began in 1986 when he retired from the U.S. Air Force and was hired as the first operator of the Civic Center. In 1988 he ran for mayor and was “thoroughly defeated” and his opponent, George Dement, asked him to be the city’s Chief Administrative Officer where Walker served for Dement’s four terms.
“I learned it’s important for the mayor to not sit behind a desk. People like to see their mayor and humanize the office, he did a lot of that did it very well. That’s one trait I learned from (Dement),” Walker explained.
After Dement decided not to run again, Walker was elected with a 91.4% margin of victory and has run unopposed for the next three terms. His 30 years at the city, along with a steady City Council, are a great thing in his opinion because it allows city leadership to imagine a project, see it through and finish it out.
“A new administration could come in and say, ‘That’s not a good idea’ and all the road you’ve plowed is for naught.”
In this episode of Like a Boss, you’ll find out from the Mayor…
- On his long history with the city, now moving into his recently begun fourth term: “It’s a vote of confidence from the city that we’re doing what we should. I never forget who our boss is and that’s the taxpayers of the city.”
- On whether he thought the city would keep growing and expanding like it has since he took office in 2005: “No, quite frankly, I didn’t. But I still had a lot to learn. What’s impressive to me is I can remember the reputation Bossier City had a few years ago and it has completely changed.”
- On why he thinks Bossier City keeps growing: “I think public safety — it’s extremely important people feel safe in the city. The city has a reputation for being progressive, straightforward and honest. Thirdly, I think our school system is very important…That’s where we have a big leg up on a lot of communities.”
- On how the city supports Barksdale Air Force Base: “Having served on many bases and listened to people from Barksdale, there’s no other place that has a better relationship with the military than we do. We go out of our way to make these people, who are a fabric of our community, welcome.”
- On how the investment and vision for a new technology industry has persisted to bare fruit: “It’s finally becoming what we wanted it to be 10 years ago. The Air Force was going to go (establish Air Force Cyber Command at Barksdale) and they said it would be nice to have a public entity that could help work problems (to speed up processes). We built this $107 million building but about that time, we had a bad economy, sequestration in the military, (so they) decided not to come and for a while there we had the most expensive flea market in the country. We were fortunate the economy improved and we had a great person to run it in Craig Spohn, so we created a National Cyber Research Park…and we got CSRA. They’re expanding and the STEM building (at BPCC) with a Louisiana Tech presence (is locating there).”
- On the new Downtown Re-Envisioning: “If this cyber research park is going to be successful, we’ve got to have the workforce that can support these initiatives. We thought if we created this environment downtown, it would be attractive to the people who provide the workforce…We’ve finally got it where you can drive (through downtown) and we’re talking to our developer about a residential and commercial development. We’re beginning to make the area more available for people to see and it’s going to be more attractive.”
- On what he hopes his legacy is: “I hoped that people would think the city is better than it was before. Basically, that I leave it better than I found it.”
He also takes some questions from Bossier City residents about rail road crossings, traffic relief, street clean up, and his efforts to attract passenger rail service via Amtrak.
Every month, Like a Boss talks with Bossier City-based business owners and entrepreneurs who make up the fabric of our economy on Facebook Live. You can see past episodes HERE, or stay up to date to catch the latest episode at the Bossier Chamber’s Facebook page HERE.