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Aug 11, 2006
EDITORIAL: Our View: Big developments are improving the state's big picture

Periodically, the press office will share editorials about Governor Blanco's work in various areas.

Published by: The Town Talk (Alexandria, LA)
Date: Friday, August 11, 2006

Every now and then, it's healthy to pull back from the day-to-day business and take a look at the bigger picture -- the view from 30,000 feet.

That's worth doing today, as we consider a number of exciting things taking place in Louisiana.

You know the headlines for Central Louisiana. They are big, and there are lots of them.

Because there's so much going on, some locals sound like they've got a mouthful of alphabet soup when they refer to the projects:


You get the idea. With a few notable exceptions (can you say "McKesson"?), the headlines in Cenla are positive. That alphabet soup refers to the top tier of additions, expansions and new directions taking place in our region:

Union Tank Car, Roy O. Martin Cos., Procter & Gamble, PlastiPak Packaging, Integrated Packaging Corp., StarTek USA, Rapides Regional Medical Center, Christus St. Frances Cabrini Hospital, Cleco Corp., Alexandria International Airport, the La. Highway 28 East and West corridors, Fort Polk's Joint Readiness Training Center, Louisiana State University at Alexandria, Louisiana College, Louisiana Technical College at Alexandria, and the Learning Center of Rapides.

The common denominator among them is growth. That's what you see from 30,000 feet here and elsewhere in a hurricane-hit state that is about to uncork the biggest reconstruction project -- ever. Consider what else is in the headlines:

On Monday, already-booming Lafayette learned that yet another employer will locate there. NuComm International of Canada will open a call center that will employ 1,000 people, with hourly wages starting at $9.05 for unskilled workers.

A primary reason NuComm cited for selecting Lafayette is the community's aggressive plans to provide fiber-optic connections to homes. That's a huge point talking point for Cenla, which has miles of "dark" optical fiber buried along Interstate 49 waiting for private-sector demand and public-sector vision to "light it up."

Earlier, we learned that a key trade publication, P3/Production Update, in July named Louisiana the best state, outside California, to make movies and television programs. The Shreveport-Bossier City area influenced that ranking, as it has enjoyed lots of attention since Hurricane Katrina sent moviemakers away from Orleans Parish.

More important than the storm's effect on the industry is the impact of the Louisiana Motion Picture Incentive Program. The program, started in 2002 by then-Gov. Mike Foster and expanded by Gov. Kathleen Blanco, is working exactly as it should by providing tax credits for payroll and production -- incentives, not give-aways. The program is a model for success.

Expect more developments along these lines. Big things are in the works, and the big picture in Louisiana is changing for the better.