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|Moret: Louisiana poised for growth|
Louisiana's top economic development officer said he believed Louisiana is headed for an economic renaissance.
Secretary of Economic Development Stephen Moret was on hand to deliver the keynote address at a meeting of the West Monroe-West Ouachita Chamber of Commerce Tuesday. During the speech, Moret told attendees Louisiana was in a unique position to affect economic change.
Moret delivered his remarks at the West Monroe Convention Center.
"We have an opportunity over the next few years to begin an exciting new chapter for the economy of our state," said Moret.
Moret pointed to a number of factors that have played out well for Louisiana. Chiefly, Moret said Louisiana was not seeing the same credit crunch because Louisiana residents have steered clear of sub-prime lending practices that have plagued much of the nation.
Also, Moret said unemployment was at near-record lows and the state has more than 100,000 job openings in the private sector.
"Things look good on the surface but underneath, there is an issue we are all too aware of," Moret said.
Moret pointed to the 100,000 job openings. He said employers in Louisiana are having trouble finding skilled labor because Louisiana's biggest export is educated workforce.
Moret unveiled a seven-point economic development plan for Louisiana that included workforce development as one of its major planks.
By creating and maintaining a better-educated workforce, Moret said the state could increase its competitiveness when attempting to attract new businesses.
One key to honing that competitive edge was working to clean up the state's reputation as a hotbed of public corruption.
Moret said ethics reform initiatives passed a few weeks ago in a special legislative session had already brought a potential tenant for the Franklin Farms megasite to the table.
"If we are able to win this site for Franklin Farms, it will be in part because of the special session on ethics reform," Moret said.
Moret pledged the Franklin Farms megasite would remain a top priority in the Jindal administration.
"I've personally put more time into cultivating that site than any other project in Louisiana," Moret said.
State Sen. Mike Walsworth called Moret's report on economic development "encouraging" and said the citizens of Ouachita Parish should take note of Jindal's commitment to the region.
"This administration is spending a lot of time in northeast Louisiana," Walsworth said.