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23,000 citizens weigh in on ‘Regional Vision’
Results and analysis to be made public on March 27th
By Staff Report -   Mar 22, 2007

The “Louisiana Speaks” task force says more than 23,000 citizens have weighed in on South Louisiana’s “Regional Vision” that will directly affect the future of St. Charles Parish.

The task force conducted an extensive public outreach campaign to engage citizens across South Louisiana on a range of issues including community growth, transportation, coastal protection and economic development. From January 22 through February 10, citizens had an opportunity to weigh in through paper “ballots,” an online poll or phone survey.

“While we haven’t finished counting all of the responses yet, we are thrilled to report that tens of thousands of citizens took time out of their own personal recoveries to speak up for South Louisiana,” said Donna Fraiche, Chair of the Louisiana Recovery Authority’s Long-Term Planning Task Force. “This level of participation is unprecedented, and it tells us that Louisianians want a vision for our long-term recovery and future growth.”

Elizabeth Thomas, President of the Center for Planning Excellence, added: “Through thousands of newsletters and e-mails, hundreds of TV, print and radio advertisements, dozens of public meetings, and more than 50 broadcasts of a one hour TV special, we exhausted every medium to engage citizens in this process.

“Never before, have so many public, private, civic and faith-based organizations come together to make it possible for citizens to engage in planning for the future of our region. To each and every one of our champions and outreach partners, and to all the citizens who participated, we say thank you.”

Robin Rather, President and CEO of Collective Strength, the research consulting firm that is collecting responses, will present complete results and analysis at a press conference at 2:00 pm Tuesday, March 27, in the Louisiana Boardroom of the Baton Rouge Community College, which is located at 5310 Florida Boulevard in Baton Rouge.

“Although we don’t have the final numbers yet, it appears that Louisiana Speaks has just concluded one of the largest and most inclusive regional planning outreach campaigns ever conducted in the United States,” said Rather. “The number of responses that have been received to date far exceeds similar efforts conducted in other parts of the US, including the long-term planning outreach initiative conducted in New York after September 11th.”

Louisiana Speaks is a long-term planning initiative of the Louisiana Recovery Authority that is supported with private funds provided through the LRA Support Foundation. Center for Planning Excellence, which was created to serve as a resource for residents, community organizations, developers and elected officials to provide information on best practices for planning and urban design, also provides support and management for the Louisiana Speaks initiative.

Collective Strength is a consulting firm based in Austin, Texas that specializes in research and planning. Collective Strength provided overall project management for the 2006 Recovery Survey and continues to provide support and consulting services to Louisiana Speaks.

The responses generated from this unprecedented, privately-funded outreach campaign will be combined with previous citizen input as well as the ongoing work of planners from across the region to create a regional vision for South Louisiana.

Spanning parishes from the Texas to Mississippi border (including the Houma/ Thibodaux, New Orleans, North Shore, Baton Rouge, Lafayette and Lake Charles metro areas), the Louisiana Speaks Regional Vision will provide the framework for local and parish plans to thrive in and serve as a guide for South Louisiana’s long-term recovery and future growth over the next 50 years.

For additional information about Louisiana Speaks, visit www.louisianaspeaks.org. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated South Louisiana, claiming 1,464 lives, destroying more than 200,000 homes and 18,000 businesses. The LRA is the planning and coordinating body that was created in the aftermath of these storms by Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco to lead one of the most extensive rebuilding efforts in the world. The LRA is a 33-member body which is coordinating across jurisdiction.

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