The Ouachita Business Alliance achieved many goals benefiting the Monroe community and is continuing these efforts in the new year.
The Ouachita Business Alliance (OBA) was formed in 2014 by members of CenturyLink and the Northeast Louisiana business community. Current chair Carrick Inabnett helped found OBA with the community in mind. "We wanted to form a business group that tried to help the community in ways that may not be addressed by local government or other organizations."
OBA, along with CenturyLink and IBM, are sponsoring initiatives to bring STEM education into local schools. STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Through curriculum training provided by the Cyber Innovation Center based in Bossier, STEM education has been implemented in three Monroe City high schools. The Ouachita Parish school system is also working to incorporate more STEM education into the curriculum. The Cyber Innovative Center believes that in the Northeast Louisiana region, there are over 3,000 unfilled jobs requiring the skills learned in this curriculum. By introducing more STEM education into local school systems, these jobs can be filled.
The 2017 signature project for OBA was the Highway 165 Landscape Enhancement Project. Community leaders and volunteers paid for and planted 320 oak trees in the medians, as well as donating for 8 signaled interchanges along the highway to be professionally landscaped. In addition to these efforts, the Ouachita Parish Sheriff's Office has increased litter pick-up in the area.
"We try to bring in different community groups to help assist with our plans, so it truly is a community effort," says Tim Mcilveene of the OBA Beautification subcommittee. With the help of other organizations, OBA successfully gained increased funding for maintenance to be done on the Ouachita River, which continues to be a viable resource for commerce in the Northeast Louisiana region. OBA was also able to help open new bike paths in Monroe and West Monroe which connect the downtown areas of the Twin Cities.
As the organization looks into the future, it plans to continue focusing on workforce development, beautification, and the business climate. For more information on the Ouachita Business Alliance, visit the OBA Facebook page or contact OBA at firstname.lastname@example.org.