Not sure if many caught it, but once again Louisiana’s economy was panned, this time in a Pew report. It shouldn’t be a surprise, other than heavy industry that gets huge tax breaks when was the last time a really big corporation focused on our state, or when was there a big office building built in New Orleans or Baton Rouge? That’s OK, I can’t cite one either.
The problem Pew alluded to is that we have been content to be a two-horse economy, tourism and energy. Nothing wrong with these except energy may be a dying industry (in Louisiana it has been for some time), and tourism is susceptible to all kinds of negative impacts like COVID.
A few more things, tourism is not an industry you want to depend upon to end the cycle of poverty. Further, at least in New Orleans, crime and general decay may well end the attractiveness of the city and with it the decades-old tourism boom.
Energy has been really good to Louisiana, but as I have written many times, we took the easy money and let Texas and other states get the corporate headquarters and R&D. The result since the 1980’s is that what good jobs we had and the tax revenues from them are steadily drying up.
As we watch our state slowly sink, we must remember that it was we who elected political leaders that either had no vision for what these industries and our other great assets could have meant to us, or worse, they did and chose instead the easy populist Louisiana Way. Same end game.
Is it too late for our state to build a prosperity targeted economy?
In America it is never too late for anything. But that being said, as long as we continue to vote for the status quo, and we thereby reject aggressive growth leadership things will stay about the same.
My hunch? Other than Mississippi River-dependent petrochemicals, don’t expect any Fortune 500’s to move to Louisiana soon.
On the other hand, strange things happen, we may all finally have an epiphany and vote out the usual suspects and with them that Louisiana Way. Then we may vote in a majority of pro-growth, 21st century visionaries who will lead us to the Promised Land.
Or we may not!