WAGUESPACK: Looking For Stories Of Good News

Politics and sports have always been two of my favorite pastimes. Unfortunately, only one word can sum them up thus far in 2016: yuck.

The year started in Louisiana with three separate legislative sessions to tackle a never-ending government deficit. New taxes were given the red carpet treatment while spending cuts and budget reform were sent to the back of the line. The result was the same one we have seen for decades:  the approval of a GROWING state budget that officials still claim is in a deficit-induced death spiral.

Legislators and the governor created some task forces to devise new solutions to fix everything. To no one’s surprise, these well-intentioned groups are thus far largely focusing on some familiar ideas and the same old political hot stoves are still quite warm to the touch.

On the national scene, Americans are forced to watch as one woman and one man continue to throw allegations, insults and outlandish claims against each other, with each new headline being more controversial than the one before…enough about Brad and Angelina’s divorce, let’s talk about the Presidential race.

A million Republicans ran for President earlier this year while Hillary’s main competitor was a 75-year-old self-proclaimed socialist who resonated best with 20 something-year-old millennials. The result is a choice for Americans between a Hillary that Bernie has pulled fifty steps to the left, a Donald that is fifty different places on any given day and an election that is starting to sound far too much like Fifty Shades of Grey.

Despite the fact this may be the most important national election in a generation, most voter emotions range from boredom to disgust, with polls showing a dwindling few of these disgruntled voters optimistic about either candidate being our next leader. Real issues about national security, the economy, judicial appointments, and government spending are pushed aside as character assassination and the race to the bottom, by both of these candidates, continues. The caretakers at Mount Rushmore need not start reserving space for either of these two.

Even our sports teams have brought us down this year. The LSU and Pelicans hoops teams underachieved while LSU football lost their opening game, canceled another, and replaced their coach midseason. The Saints seem to always come up short despite scoring a zillion points a game, thanks to a hall of fame quarterback and a hall of shame defense.

Without a doubt, we are in desperate need of some good news. It is in that vein, we at the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) need your help to hopefully tell some of those stories.

This month, we are asking for nominations for the inaugural Free Enterprise Awards.These awards will recognize employers, employees, and other stakeholders that have made positive contributions to Louisiana’s economy and helped improve their local communities’ economic growth and sustainability. LABI is now accepting nominations online (www.labi.org/nominate-a-business) and will recognize honorees on November 17, 2016.

It is time to hear more about real people making real investments of time, resources and compassion in our communities. We have heard plenty about efforts by the so-called role models, talking heads and politicians; it is time to learn from the people on the ground making a difference each and every day in their own special way.

Categories for these awards will include:

The Ed Steimel Achievement Award:

Honors long standing membership and service to LABI and recognizes individuals who have committed extraordinary time and effort to improve the quality of life in Louisiana.

Free Enterprise Champions

Honors individuals who demonstrate exemplary commitment and contributions to the state’s business climate and their local communities. There will be a special category for young business people (under 40).

Companies and Manufacturers of the Year

Recognizes outstanding achievement among Louisiana companies and manufacturers.

Workforce Innovator(s) of the Year

Honors individuals or organizations, which have provided substantial innovations or contributions to workforce development in Louisiana. The award recognizes those who have excelled in creating, implementing, or supporting a high-caliber education and/or workforce development initiative aligned with closing the employment gap.

Economic Development Partner(s) of the Year

This category recognizes exceptional leadership by an economic development or business organization.

We are all desperate for some good news and these awards can serve as a small way to shine the light on the positive things happening every day. Hidden deep in the brush of the yucky headlines of 2016 are examples of great efforts by people and businesses to serve this state.  There are stories worth telling, and more importantly, stories from which we can learn.

Please help us by visiting www. labi.org/nominate-a-business and making your nomination today.

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