CROWLEY – The guest speaker at Tuesday’s meeting of the Crowley Rotary Club was John Spain, vice president of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, who spoke about the economic opportunities the 1-10/1-12 corridor present for Louisiana.
According to Spain, the Baton Rouge Area Foundation is devoted to philanthropy, and is helping with planning and funding Louisiana’s recovery plans, to the tune of $52 million in private funds.
Also helping with the planning of the recovery of south Louisiana is the Center for Planning Excellence, according to Mark Goodson with the Center. Another La. non-profit agency, the Center was approached by the Louisiana Recovery Authority to help in the recovery efforts of 34 parishes in south Louisiana. They are responsible for the program Louisiana Speaks, an initiative for the long-term planning of the recovery of Louisiana after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Goodson stated that the recovery of the state is being driven by revenue from the region of the 1-10/1-12 corridor – from Lake Charles, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, and all the communities in between.
With the help of GSD&M Purpose Institute, an initiative was developed, now in it’s second phase, to “rebuild Louisiana on purpose.”
“We need to send a message to the rest of the country that says Louisiana is open for business,” said Spain.
According to Spain, obstacles to overcome are Louisiana’s image problems and her real problems. Image problems include the rest of the world perceiving New Orleans as “the face of Louisiana,” forever linking the state to the two worst hurricanes in U.S. history, and grossly underestimating the importance of the state to the U.S. economy. Real problems include the loss of coastal wetlands, the threat of more hurricanes, and the continuing recovery of the state.
Advantages Louisiana has is the pioneering reform we are doing now and the distinct culture we have here.
With this initiative, planners are trying to show how “to bring energy to life”, the catch phrase of the initiative, to the rest of the country, according to Spain.
People in Louisiana have always balanced life and work, stated Spain. Hopefully, this will attract people to Louisiana.
A campaign promoting the various opportunities for energy – the energy that runs US automobiles and the energy that the culture in Louisiana promotes – is underway, and the I-10/I-12 corridor will feature largely, according to Spain. Another opportunity, stated Spain, has to do with all the communities in the 1-10/1-12 corridor working together to maximize opportunities in the state legislature.
“We are either going to sink or swim together.”
Stated Spain, we want to say to the world, come here.