There is something about the environment in Monroe that fosters and encourages entrepreneurial development. In 1913, Coca Cola was first bottled here by Joseph A. Biedenharn. Later, he opened the first Coca Cola bottling plant in the nation. In 1925, Mr. Biedenharn joined a group of enterprising gentlemen who purchased a crop-dusting business and added 18 airplanes, creating the largest privately owned fleet in the world at the time. In 1929, the company became Delta Airlines, which now has over 160 million customers throughout their global network.

In 1930, William Clarke and Marie Williams purchased the Oak Ridge Telephone Company for $500, running the business out of their front parlor so the family could man the switchboard 243 hours a day. Today, through growth, mergers and acquisitions, that business, now called CenturyLink, has become the largest independent telecommunications provider and third largest telecommunications provider in the United States with over 18 million access lines nationwide. CenturyLink has approximately 49,000 employees and operates in 37 states. In 2015, CenturyLink opened a 250,000-square foot addition to their headquarters in Monroe, and will add 800 jobs to staff the facility. Other major employers in the Monroe area include, J. P. Morgan CHASE Company, Graphic Packaging, Angus Chemical, St. Francis Medical Center, Con Agra Lam Weston, Berry Plastics, Bancroft Bag, Glenwood Regional Medical Center, Foster Farms, DG Foods, Vantage Health Plan, Brookshire’s and Gardner Denver Thomas.

Monroe also serves as the retail hub for the Northeast Louisiana region. The premier retail shopping destination is Pecanland Mall with over 115 shops restaurants and department stores. Other retail shopping areas are found in Midtown Monroe with boutiques, gift shops and specialty stores. Antique Alley in West Monroe offers a shopping experience for antique lovers. The area also features art studios and gift shops. Downtown Monroe is a popular destination for art lovers, craft markets, dining and the Monroe River Market.

Ouachita Parish serves as the medical hub for Northeast Louisiana with three major hospitals and three specialty hospitals. The medical community provides an extensive range of services for the region’s youngest citizens to the area’s oldest citizens. In addition, there are a number of skilled nursing facilities, a cancer institute, pain center and a wound care center.

A welcoming community, affordable housing in charming neighborhoods located near top-rated schools, quality healthcare options and a low cost of living are all key components to life in Northeast Louisiana and the region’s anchor city of Monroe.

Major Employers

JP Morgan Chase - 2,600
St. Francis Medical Center - 2,500
CenturyLink - 2,550
Graphic Packaging - 1,200
Foster Farms - 1,100
Wal-Mart (Monroe & West Monroe) - 1112
Glenwood Regional Medical Center - 900
Brookshire’s - 629
Entergy - 400
Bancroft Bag - 400
Berry Plastics Corporation - 360
Gardner Denver-Thomas -  300
Monroe Manufacturing - 300
Sears & Roebuck - 300
Vantage - 300
Con-Agra 280
Angus Chemical Company - 250
James Machine Works - 175