Fall brings optimism for business community

I love this time of year. As summer winds down and the kids head back to school with new shoes, haircuts and attitudes, the air is filled with promises of great grades, perfect classroom behavior and meticulous attention to nightly homework.

As football season kicks off, teams throughout the country enter their first games with new coaches; stories of physically improved players and euphoric fanbases convinced this is the year that everything comes together. The Tigers will beat Bama, the Saints will win the Super Bowl and every other Louisiana team will make their mark on a magical season…or so the story goes.

The takeaway is this: I love this time of year because it is the time where optimism abounds. It is everywhere and it is contagious. This is in stark contrast to the rest of the year where we often seem to be talking about endless analysis of societal challenges, both real and orchestrated. This is the time of year that brings out the best in people’s hope, and their sometimes-blind allegiance to their team. Time to cut down on the teeth gnashing and focus on some bone crushing hits.

Well, LABI is my new team and I am filled with optimism as I begin my first week on the job as its new president.

I am optimistic for many reasons.

First, the business community is as talented and dedicated as any team out there. Every Louisiana community has business leaders making a difference each and every day for the people of this state. Think about it. Wherever you live, if you have a healthy economy it is because you have employers there hiring your citizens and providing indirect economic opportunities for support businesses. These business leaders are usually the first to step in and help their fellow man. There is hardly ever a charitable effort that succeeds without the strong support of local business leaders. Big business or small business, these leaders step up repeatedly to help their fellow man every day in our state.

Second, the LABI agenda is the right agenda for all Louisianians. LABI supports low taxes so that investment and innovation can drive economic growth that benefits everyone. LABI wants to free our legal system from countless frivolous lawsuits so we stop scaring away investment and allow people and small businesses that truly need a timely and effective court system to have their day in court. LABI wants accountable K-12 schools and a focused post-secondary system that will produce educated, skilled and trained citizens that stay in Louisiana to work and raise a family. LABI wants to stand strong against the never-ending creep of government into our daily lives, especially from the threat we see daily from the federal level. Our citizens are strong, smart, loyal and resilient. Get out of their way and you will be surprised at how much they can accomplish.

Lastly, LABI needs to stand strong now more than any other time in recent memory. We are hearing about new investments in traditional and emerging industries as well as a favorable environment for domestic oil and gas development. While the effects of the national recession remain, there are real signs that we are on the verge of economic growth here in Louisiana. While all of that is promising, we already hear the subtle footsteps of those lying in wait to prey on any sign of economic vitality.

Some are already pontificating on the nobleness of raising taxes to fund government growth or the use of threatening money-grabbing lawsuits against Louisiana employers. They are using federal rules and executive actions to implement damaging regulations and mandates to suffocate growth and expansion. The noise from these types of tactics is only going to grow louder and louder as our employers and workers rebuild our economy through hard work and effort. The tactics may change, but the goal remains the same. They want to kill the golden goose and serve it for Thanksgiving dinner.

This debate isn’t new. We have seen the same arguments repetitively. In fact, in the ‘80s we begged for another chance at prosperity, promising we would not waste it next time. Well here we are at “next time” and it is time for us to fulfill that promise. LABI fought for years for economic and regulatory policy that benefits everyone in Louisiana, and we will be there again.

Therefore, I am optimistic for Louisiana’s future, and you should be too. Just like our favorite team doing the little things in the offseason to beat their archrival, we are going to do the little things to fight for sensible state and federal policies that will allow our people to beat our neighboring states for jobs and investment. It is Louisiana’s turn to hold the trophy high over our heads at the end of the season as confetti falls from the rafters.

The Saints will win the Super Bowl. The Tigers will beat Bama. The business community will continue to invest in their communities, fight for policies that benefit all Louisianians and stand in the way of those that choose government growth over economic vitality. This is our year…I can feel it.


About Stephen Waguespack 26 Articles
Stephen Waguespack is the President and CEO of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI). As the state’s chamber of commerce and manufacturer’s association, LABI is the largest business advocacy group, representing more than 2,200 business members and 324,000 employees.

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