Former Bossier Chamber head honored for promoting Louisiana industries internationally

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The former executive director of the Bossier Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Bossier Economic Development Foundation today received the 2018 Eugene J. Schreiber Award for his many years of work in promoting Louisiana and its industries on the international stage.

The World Trade Center of New Orleans honored Don Pierson with the award in the concluding ceremony of Louisiana International Trade Week. Gov. John Bel Edwards appointed Pierson Secretary of Louisiana Economic Development in January 2016.

It’s no surprise to Shreveport and Bossier residents that Pierson was honored. Pearson was director of the Bossier Chamber and its Economic Development Foundation during one of the darkest economic periods since the Great Depression. But when things appeared to be at their lowest,

Pierson was the catalyst that brought Mardi Gras to Bossier and Shreveport, which gave an economic boost to the entire area and today attracts thousands of people from all over the country to the area for family-oriented Mardi Gras Parades. In addition, Pierson worked tirelessly with the late Mayor George Dement and the Bossier City Council of the early ‘90s to bring casinos to Bossier and Shreveport.  

As LED Secretary, Pierson has served as Gov. John Bel Edwards’ primary representative to government officials, local communities and site selector consultants on economic development issues.

Under his leadership, LED this year became the only state agency in the U.S. currently recognized as an Accredited Economic Development Organization by the International Economic Development Council.

“International trade and foreign direct investment are important components of our state’s economy, and Secretary Don Pierson’s leadership at Louisiana Economic Development has brought us great success in this field,” Gov. Edwards said. “The hard work of Secretary Pierson and his team has helped make Louisiana the top state in the U.S. for per capita foreign direct investment and a key trade destination for international companies. We thank our friends at the World Trade Center of New Orleans, one of our vital economic development partners, for this well-deserved recognition.”

LED has attracted economic development project wins since January 2016 that are resulting in more than 25,000 new jobs, 16,000 retained jobs and $26 billion in new capital investment. Among the major international projects that Pierson and LED have worked to attract are South Africa-based Sasol’s new $11.1 billion chemical complex in Lake Charles; Germany-based Benteler Steel/Tube’s nearly $1 billion project in Shreveport; Japan-based Shintech’s more than $6 billion in investment centered in Iberville Parish; and Taiwan-based Formosa’s pending $9.4 billion ethylene complex in St. James Parish.

A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Pierson served as a Ranger-qualified infantry officer in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division for five years. A former small business owner, he has spent 30 years in economic development, including 17 years as head of the Greater Bossier Economic Development Foundation before joining LED in 2008.

The Eugene J. Schreiber Award, in memory of the late Eugene J. “Gene” Schreiber, honors an individual who demonstrates exceptional knowledge and leadership in promoting international trade policy for the benefit of the State of Louisiana.

Schreiber served as managing director of the World Trade Center for more than 30 years, from 1979 to 2010.

Previous recipients of the award have included former U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, former U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany Jr., James Coleman Jr. of International-Matex Tank Terminals, former Port of New Orleans CEO Gary LaGrange and Port of South Louisiana Executive Director Paul Aucoin.

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