Should members of the LSU Board of Supervisors disclose who receives their scholarships?|
Story Archives: Turn on the good news: La. working
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|Turn on the good news: La. working|
You can't pick up the paper or turn on the TV in the last few months without hearing about more national economic turbulence: American auto giants facing bankruptcy ... manufacturing in decline as more jobs go overseas ... the national credit crisis threatening the security of national banks ... entire real estate markets collapsing linked to the mortgage crisis ... and the list goes on.
What should we do about these national economic challenges? Well, Washington has given us the same old solutions: spend more money...print more money...borrow more money from China ...and get more money out of the American taxpayer. These seem to be the Washington-DC answers to every economic challenge. In Louisiana , we know we can't spend or tax our way out of our challenges. Instead, we are focused on initiatives that encourage job creation.
These initiatives that foster economic growth and support businesses, while tightening the belt on government spending, is exactly the focus of my "Louisiana Working Tour" — a tour where I am visiting your parish, and all of the 64 Louisiana parishes, in the coming months to promote the importance of creating more Louisiana jobs.
Recently, I met Rex Rugg of Monroe, who was working at a plant in West Monroe when he learned that the company would soon close that facility. Rex started to worry that he would need to move his family from their hometown, where his wife has taught school for 21 years, and they are raising their 12-year-old son. The Ruggs had also recently bought a new house that they could not afford to sell.
Meanwhile, in April, Gardner Denver Thomas — a leading global manufacturing company in Monroe — announced that it would consolidate its operations and we heard they originally planned to move their Monroe office into their Wisconsin headquarters. At first glance, these two stories seemed like just two more bad news stories in a challenging national economy.
We began to work aggressively with Gardner Denver Thomas to convince them to expand their operations in Louisiana instead of Wisconsin . Even though the odds were against us, we eventually won the project and their decision to expand operations in Monroe means the plant will now more than quadruple in size and become one of Louisiana's top 200 economic-driver firms.
Rex Rugg was hired as a supervisor at the Gardner Denver Tomas plant after completing our Louisiana Fast Start worker-training program that gave him the skills he needed to hit the ground running, and the Ruggs no longer have to worry about moving out of Monroe.
This is the story of one worker out of the more than 32,000 jobs that are being created through economic wins since last January. On the "Louisiana Working Tour," I meet folks all over our state and wherever I go, I find that we share the common goal of wanting to make Louisiana the best place in the world for businesses to grow so we can create more jobs to keep our people right here at home.
Against the constant stream of bad national news, we recently got some more good news here in Louisiana when Southern Business & Development magazine announced that Louisiana is "Co-state of the Year" alongside Tennessee — beating out other states in the South in the annual SB&D 100 rankings for that top spot. The magazine also named New Orleans the "Major Market of the Year" and Baton Rouge "Mid-Market of the Year."
In granting our number-one ranking the magazine reported that: " Louisiana has come a long way since the mid-1990s. Back then, we remember a couple of years when the biggest job deals were new Wal-Mart stores ...Those days are gone, replaced by a Louisiana economy that is as vibrant as any in the South."
Those days are indeed long gone and our news today reads much differently.
The Local Market Monitor, a national real estate market appraisal organization, says Louisiana is one of just five states in the country to show an increase in home prices over the past year. The report also shows that the Housing Price Index rose 3.1 percent in Louisiana , but nationally, it fell by 10.2 percent. In fact, the organization ranked Shreveport , Lake Charles , Alexandria , and Monroe among the top ten housing markets with a population of 600,000 people or less. Louisiana also has the second lowest unemployment rate in the South, and one of the ten lowest unemployment rates in the nation.
The Center for Public Integrity (CPI) also recently announced that Louisiana now ranks number one on CPI's latest legislative financial disclosure rankings. Previously, we ranked 44th on CPI's disclosure rankings, but we vowed to change that, and in 2008 we worked with the legislature to pass new ethics laws that would move our state from the bottom to the top of the list.
While the good news here continues, we know we are not without our challenges. We have to continue to make government do more with less as we combat budget shortfalls in the years ahead. In fact, we already launched the Commission on Streamlining Government, which recently held its first meeting at the Capitol. The Commission will make innovative recommendations to reform government and dramatically reduce the cost of providing needed services to taxpayers. Next, the Post-Secondary Education Commission will launch its first meeting, officially beginning the process of reviewing our universities and colleges so they improve educational attainment of our students to match our state's economic development needs.
State government, just like Louisiana families, will have to roll up its sleeves and do the hard work to save money during future budget challenges. Only through this hard work and initiatives to support our businesses and encourage economic growth will we continue to move our state forward and generate greater job creation and even more positive economic news about Louisiana.