“We Still Have Work to Do:” Gov. Edwards and Mayor Cantrell Speak to 2019 Labor Summit

Both New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell and Governor John Bel Edwards, who is running for re-election in the Fall, addressed a packed ballroom at the 2019 Louisiana Labor Summit on Thursday. The 2019 Louisiana Labor Summit, which is taking place from March 19th-22nd in New Orleans, features a variety of topics about Workforce Commission activities and economic development potential in our state.

Mayor Cantrell took the stage first, repeatedly referencing the fact that “where New Orleans goes, so does the state of Louisiana” and emphasizing her faith in Governor Edwards’ leadership.

Amid cheers, she said she was looking forward to capitalizing on initiatives formed with the state government from the results of the disparity study she spearheaded while on the New Orleans City Council. According to Cantrell, the study found that minority businesses in New Orleans comprise over 45 percent of businesses, but were a much smaller share of overall revenues. “That shows us where the disparities truly lie. But when you have great leadership at the top, resources begin to be targeted where the need is greatest,” she continued. Cantrell listed the workforce training programs for incumbent workers and the DXC Technology deal as the products of such targeted resource programs. Cantrell also touted infrastructure programs “that aren’t just grey, but also green.”

For his part, John Bel Edwards, who was introduced by a longtime Workforce Commission employee and a long list of statistics about economic growth including the money and jobs created by his signature Medicaid expansion, focused on what still needs to be done. “Since January 2016, we’ve landed 128 significant economic development projects that have brought in more than $33 billion in new patent investment, created 27,000 new permanent jobs, and retained more than 21,000 jobs across Louisiana,” Governor Edwards said. He also touted Louisiana’s status as first in the nation in terms of foreign direct investment and the highest GDP in the state’s history.

However, he said that can only continue if we have a skilled workforce to employ. “We’re not satisfied with 4.9 percent unemployment, we have to keep working,” Governor Edwards said. “And least satisfied of all is Ava [Dejoie, Louisiana Workforce Commission Director]. We’re better off, but we’re not where we want to be.”

He concluded his address by praising the Workforce Commission and public servants for their efforts, especially for the employment of formerly incarcerated people, and urging everyone to stay the course. “We want to make Louisiana the best place to live, to work, to retire, to grow a business, and we can do that by continuing to invest in our greatest natural resource, our people.”

Image Credit: NOLA.com

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