Economic development is not just one single thing. It is a combination of several efforts that encompass education, quality childcare, public safety, family wellness and then, finally, economic initiatives. In order to have a healthy economy, we have to have a healthy, well trained work force and proper infrastructure-we can’t expect to attract quality industry if we can’t offer them quality of life.
In concert with all of the other issues of structural budget reform, early childhood education, public safety and criminal justice initiatives and coastal preservation, there are some additional actions that would be beneficial to economic development in Louisiana:
Create connections between high schools and community and technical colleges to make sure our students are getting practical experience and applicable knowledge to integrate effectively into the workforce.
Develop a retraining program for workers whose skills are no longer relevant and direct them towards booming industries with labor shortages, such as the chemical plant corridor between New Orleans and Baton Rouge.
Connect re-entry programs with the master plan on roadwork. Provide employment in road construction to help rebuild all of the roads that need to be updated, while at the same time providing a livable wage and a decent job to help them get re-established.
Direct local and foreign born medical personnel to jobs in our growing medical corridor.
Focus on Infrastructure and properly invest in our roads and bridges. We currently have a $12.7 billion backlog of transportation construction projects and are in danger of losing crucial federal match dollars for repairs and maintenance. We need to raise the gas tax and make sure our roadways are safe and strong.
As Speaker Pro Tempore, I have strived to be one of the state’s greatest champions for economic opportunity. I have sponsored and supported dozens of pieces of legislation to strengthen Louisiana’s economy and help its people prosper:
- Historic Tax Credits: I helped pass legislation that has renewed the state historic rehabilitation tax credits and protected them in subsequent years from getting cut. In State Fiscal Year 2015-2016, there were 92 Federal Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit projects completed in LA for a total of $318.1 million in investment leveraged. Through 2010, projects facilitated by the historic credit generated more than 11,000 construction jobs and more than 5,700 permanent jobs statewide.
- Louisiana’s Entertainment Tax Credits Program: supports over $1.1 billion in sales at firms in the state, $770.6 million in household earnings for state citizens, and 15,184 jobs.
- Louisiana New Markets Jobs Act: leverages Federal dollars to generate $55 million in private financing available to local small businesses
- Capital Outlay Programs: strengthens our state’s infrastructure, enhances our District, and makes numerous improvements in the Greater New Orleans Area, including after-school program and school buildings, museums and cultural institutions, health care centers, the Sports & Entertainment District, the French Quarter, and downtown.
- New Orleans Riverfront Revitalization: accelerates New Orleans’ riverfront redevelopment, creating jobs, boosting our local economy, and cementing New Orleans’ position as a top destination for tourists and conventions.
- South Market District: $200 million mixed-use development inside the Enterprise Zone in Downtown New Orleans that represents thousands of jobs, the expansion of retail, the revitalization of prime real estate, and a boost in workforce housing.
- Convention Center Expansion/Taxing Authority: gives the Convention Center flexibility within its own district to boost commercial development along the New Orleans riverfront. The Convention Center plans to spend as much as $175 million of their bond capacity on infrastructure and improvements along Convention Center Boulevard with the hopes of attracting up to $1 billion in private investment for a mixed-use development that will include a 1,200-room hotel and entertainment district. This is primed to be one of the most transformative projects in decades and will reshape our riverfront into a true destination for visitors and residents alike, with the added bonus of diminishing the pressure imposed by masses of tourists on other major tourist destinations in New Orleans.
- Medifund: invests in bioinnovation and biomedical research that will create jobs, grow the economy, and promote a knowledge-based economy for Louisiana.
- Education Funding: supports certified classroom teachers with a pay increase and prepares our youth for the jobs of tomorrow.
- Equal Pay for Women: ensures that everyone gets the same pay for the same work and enhances Louisiana’s reputation as a good place to do business.
- Health Care Support: allows our state to access more federal funds, ensuring medical care fits in Louisianan’s budgets, creating 15,600 new jobs, and generating $1.8 billion in additional economic activity.