JIM BROWN: Do we need more pride?
One of the biggest tests facing Louisiana’s recently elected Gov. John Bel Edwards is the challenge of re-instilling pride in the attitudes of many Louisianans. Government can only do so much. But a governor can be a catalyst in raising the public’s expectations.
The whole focus of public accountability and local pride came to mind recently on a visit to Charlotte, North Carolina. Now I do admit a bit of favorable prejudice toward the Tar Heel State, having graduated from Chapel Hill back in the '.60s. And 60 years ago, many observers linked North Carolina and Louisiana as the two southern states with the greatest potential for economic growth and a higher quality of life in the South.
Both states had a strong agricultural base, with tobacco being king in Carolina and both cotton and sugar cane offering farmers a good living in Louisiana. It was textiles in Carolina and oil Louisiana. The two great university presses in the South were located at Chapel Hill and Baton Rouge with major American literary figures concentrated around the two great state universities.
But an economic downturn hit both states in the late 1970s. North Carolina quickly diversified and centered its future economic development on an innovative research triangle that attracted startup businesses all over the state. High oil prices enticed Louisiana to keep the status quo.
Several Louisiana cities have recently sent groups of business leaders and public officials around the country to observe what seems to be working in other cities. They would do well to make a pilgrimage to Charlotte. Here is what they would find.
One of the first things you notice is the cleanliness,.
A few months ago, a former Louisiana state senator was a guest on my syndicated radio show. He told the story of his efforts to bring a Japanese automobile plant to Northeast Louisiana.
The Japanese decided to go elsewhere. When he followed up the visit to find out why Louisiana was turned down, he was given two reasons. First was the lack of a trained workforce. But just as important, was the litter along the highways. He was told: “Your people do not seem to take much pride in keeping their state clean.”
Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.
“If you love Louisiana, she’ll love you back.”
Peace and Justice