BATON ROUGE – A cabinet-level Office of Talent Development, an eventual phase-out of the personal income tax and a focus on early childhood as both an educational tool and workforce support system – those are just three of the many policy recommendations revealed today by the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) in its LA23 Strategic Plan, aimed at correcting course for Louisiana, with a goal of ultimately positioning the state as a top-tier economic leader in the South by the year 2030.
The LA23 plan, developed over the past year by expert consultants, concentrates on four areas where Louisiana can achieve the most gains by making adjustments:
- Education and Workforce Development
- Tax and Business Climate
- Economic Development
- Safety and Resiliency
Within each focus area are specific recommendations to achieve set outcomes for growth. To craft the plan, LABI leaned on policy experts and consultants who gathered input from major employers and small business owners, elected officials and civic leaders, as well as identified best practices from other states that could be replicated in Louisiana. The result is a workable, practical and trackable series of steps Louisiana’s leaders can take to position our state for economic success.
“LA23 focuses on fixing what’s truly holding our state back,” says LABI Interim President & CEO Jim Patterson. “Many of these recommendations are consistent with LABI’s longstanding free enterprise policy orientation, but there are some new areas identified as major impediments to economic opportunity. We’ve included issues like affordable housing for workers, crime prevention and improved health outcomes in addition to solutions we’ve long sought like tax and tort reform. There are also vital recommendations on ways our state government can realign to better serve in these areas, and we look forward to digging in immediately with candidates, legislators and leaders to begin implementing this critical strategic plan for Louisiana.”
The full LA23 Strategic Plan is now available in print in the Fall 2023 issue of LABI’s 5th & Main magazine and online at LA23.org, along with a range of tools and resources for policymakers and citizens, including deeper policy research and solutions offered on education and tax reform. To craft the report, LABI tapped the expertise of a number of consultants, with the main report authored by Ted Abernathy, Managing Partner of Economic Leadership LLC, a consultancy that has led the development of State Economic Development and Economic Competitiveness Strategies for the state chambers of commerce in Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas and for both the state Chamber and the Department of Commerce in North Carolina. In his research, Abernathy pinpointed alarming revelations about Louisiana’s challenges and what’s at stake if we stand still.
“For the past generation, most economic indicators show Louisiana lagging other states,” says Abernathy. “In fact, Louisiana is ranked near the bottom. Without immediate new thinking and bold action, you can expect greater job and population losses and to be a state young people increasingly choose to leave for better opportunities in other, more successful southern states.”
LA23’s launch comes exactly 30 days ahead of the October 14, 2023 election, where voters will decide on Louisiana’s next governor as well as other state and local offices down the ballot. Following this launch, LABI plans to engage heavily with candidates, the state’s business community and voters to help them navigate the changes needed in the hopes that implementation of some recommendations can begin immediately.
“LABI is no stranger to bold reform,” says b1BANK President and CEO and LABI Board Chair Jude Melville. “Our outreach and advocacy during the last election cycle helped to usher in a wave of freshmen legislators joining incumbents ready to make meaningful decisions, leading to progress in the adoption of tort and tax reform legislation. This cycle, with high turnover in the legislature, Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, and statewide elected officials, including the governor’s office, we have many additional important decisions to make and an even greater opportunity to enact significant change. We believe the ideas and aspirations included in LA23 collectively serve as a bold but necessary starting point for that conversation and we look forward to helping lead our state on what will be a tough but potentially immensely rewarding journey forward.”
“What we’re hearing from candidates as they hit the campaign trail is a universal call for change,” says Beverly Haydel, President and CEO of Sequitur Consulting and project director for LA23. “They’re talking with voters and constituents about the need for a plan like this – for reforms that finally stop Louisiana from lagging behind. From the outset, the mission of LA23 has been to develop and offer up bold policy solutions to do just that. The meticulous level of input, research and analysis this team has gathered over the past year offers, in LA23, the roadmap this state and our next set of elected officials need to begin closing the gap between Louisiana and other southern states when it comes to economic growth, and to put our state on a pathway to economic success.”
The voice of Louisiana’s business owners, large and small, LABI serves its broad membership by working towards the singular goal of fostering a climate for economic growth through consistently championing the principles of the free enterprise system. LABI sets the standard for advocacy, providing policymakers with the information and perspective necessary to advance sound public policy that supports strong economic growth. LABI is proud to be Louisiana’s official state chapter for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers. Representing more than 2,000 Louisiana employers, we are the only association that represents businesses of all sizes from a statewide, multi-industry perspective.