A study from the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center is warning that the post-Katrina money which has protected southeast Louisiana from the worst of the national recession will start winding down. Experts are advising a regional approach to economic growth.
Data Center spokeswoman Allison Plyer says the study looked at the New Orleans, Houma-Thibodaux and Baton Rouge economies. She says the three complement each other. For example, all three depend on the oil and gas industry. But the report says that unless the regions expand their business specialties, jobs will grow by only 1.4 percent a year through 2020. Plyer says economic development requires an expansion to other industries.
“Those industries include digital media, biosciences, clean tech and water management," Plyer said. "And I think we all know that water management is really important, because with the increasingly dire predictions of our coastal erosion we need to be rebuilding the wetlands not only for the folks down in Houma-Thibodaux but also for us here in New Orleans and eventually for the folks in Baton Rouge.”
Plyer says billions of dollars coming from BP over its oil spill could prove vital to developing cutting-edge industries.
“What is unique to our region, obviously, is all of the engineering and scientific consulting that goes into deep-water oil exploration and water management. We are a powerhouse in water transportation, unlike almost any other part of the country.”
Plyer says southeast Louisiana is far ahead of other regions, the East Coast, for example, in examining methods of dealing with rising sea levels.
This news content made possible with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.