Jindal touts Building a Better Louisiana

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 2, 2010



RESERVE – During a lunchtime address to a room full of St. John the Baptist Parish residents, business leaders and elected officials Friday, Gov. Bobby Jindal said he is working to ensure a better future for the state through economic development and stronger education.

The speech, which was made at the National Guard Readiness Center in Reserve, is part of Jindal’s “Building a Better Louisiana for Our Children” speaking tour statewide.

“It means a lot to me to bring him back to St. John,” said Parish President Natalie Robottom, who spent two years working in Jindal’s cabinet as director of the Office of Community Programs. “I think our personal relationship is very beneficial for what we want to get done in this parish.”

Jindal began with a handful of stories about the BP oil spill, which deeply affected much of the state’s way of life. He said the spill was just one of a long line of difficulties the state has faced, but he said those difficulties have only made the state and its people stronger and more resilient.

“During the oil spill crisis, people often asked me if I thought Louisiana would ever recover,” Jindal said. “Would we ever be the same? Would Louisiana return to be Sportsmen’s Paradise as we have known it? Would communities and families be able to survive these tough times? One of the main reasons I came here today is to answer these fundamental questions. If there is one thing you remember from this speech today I hope it is this – my answer to all these questions is plainly ‘yes.’”

Jindal relayed a series of statistics and high points for the state economically since he set off on the speaking tour.

• He cited a U.S. Census report that indicated a third straight year of net population in-migration.

• Jindal said for the second straight year, Southern Business and Development named Louisiana “Co-State of the Year” for attracting more significant business and job-creating projects per capita than any other state.

• The governor also cited two studies that indicated that Louisiana is among 11 other states that have fared best or already recovering from the economic downturn of last year.

“We have certainly been gaining more than we lost in many different areas,” Jindal said. “This is because we have been committed to stronger investments in our most valuable asset – the people of this state.”

Jindal also highlighted a number of innovative programs and policies that have been implemented in order to create an environment that fosters growth and opportunity for Louisianians, including ethics reform, lower taxes, revamping workforce development and education reform. He also talked about emphasizing a comprehensive workforce development system for the state that includes more of a focus on community and technical colleges.

“We know that over the next five to 10 years, most jobs will require more training than high school but less than a traditional four-year college degree,” Jindal said. “Yet, only about 12 percent of our high school graduates currently pursue training at a community or technical college. To align our education system with our workforce needs, we dramatically transformed the way we train our people, including creating programs that guarantee our workers are ready to work on their very first day. We also launched a new workforce development program, invested in higher education infrastructure and improved our dropout prevention programs. We can no longer afford to admit students that are not prepared to complete four-year programs – only to have them drop out or fail out with thousands of dollars in debt. It will not help our efforts to expand our economy though an educated workforce, but most importantly, it’s simply not fair to these students to start them out in their careers with unnecessary debt and lacking the skills they need to succeed in the marketplace. We need to make sure students start out at an institution that best suits their ability and needs.”