Matt Rookard | CEO, Terrebonne Economic Development Authority
Tell me about your work:
What is the best part of your job?
Easily the best part of the job is the impact we are able to have on the community – even when people don’t realize it. As a lot of our work is behind-the-scenes and in partnership with other groups, I think we have a much broader impact than many people realize.
What is the hardest?
The hardest part recently has been trying to find ways to support businesses and employees who have seen setbacks during the most recent bust cycle in the oil industry. It is difficult when you run across people or organizations that were doing everything they can do and were hit hard by the rapid change in a global markets.
Why should someone support TEDA’s efforts?
TEDA works very hard to make sure that we understand and assist businesses that are already here in Terrebonne Parish. Last year, for example, we met with over 70 executives one on one to discuss their challenges, their growth plans, and any policy or market issues that we can help address. This also gives us the chance to thank them for doing business in Terrebonne Parish. Keeping our current businesses happy and growing does not get the headlines in the paper, but it can be some of the most important work in the community.
We have also been really pushing some diversification efforts which will help the economy be better positioned for the next bust cycle.
What on the agenda for 2020?
This year we are really pushing hard on real estate projects and trying to leverage the possibilities created through new investments.
With Entergy Louisiana’s support, we are identifying key industrial real estate tracts and will be marketing those aggressively to decision makers in the targeted sectors. We are also partnering with TPCG and the local American Legion to rethink the ways we can engage local veterans while creating new facilities for community use.
Additionally, we are looking to help drive key businesses who can take advantage of the diversification initiatives that are already underway. LUMCON’s new Blue Worx facility will leverage the unique research capacity here. The new Maritime Education Campus which that will drive education initiatives with a focus on technology in the marine industry. The Houma – Terrebonne Airport’s unmanned aviation initiative is also going to drive a new type of job to this market that does not currently exist today.
What’s one leadership skill you feel everyone must learn?
Perspective. I have always felt that there are a lot of people who work hard in this world. There are a lot of smart people in this world. And there are a lot of people with more resources in this world. So, how do we compete? You compete by approaching the problems you run into a little differently than everyone else – through the perspective of other’s. That is where I think people can really add value in most any thing you do; both personally and professionally. And as byproduct, I think you become a more empathetic and understanding person over time.
Tell me about yourself:
As a child, what did you see yourself doing as a career?
It sounds silly now, but I always thought I would be a professional baseball player. We were lucky to be on some good teams growing up and did very well. People would always tell my parents that I had a real shot. I never believed it until I made a team representing the US playing the Canadian all-stars. Obviously, it did not work out that way, but I learned a lot of lessons about following a process, staying committed, and being driven everyday to a cause.
What was your very first job?
My grandfather owned a mobile home dealership. We always would “work” for him growing up during the summers. But as I got into middle school and high school, it became a real job.
What time to do you wake up and how do you start your day?
My two boys (ages 5 & 3) are my alarm clock. They like to get up around 4:30 or 5:00, so that is plenty early for me. I generally get my coffee and then get the morning routine started – breakfast, getting dressed, stories, etc. Until I had kids, I did not realize how little time you actually see them during the week. A few hours in the morning and a few more in the evening is really all you get, so I try to enjoy it as much as I can.
And all the whole routine will change soon – as we are having a third boy who is due to arrive in early April.
What’s one thing you couldn’t live without?
Coffee. If you ever want to meet, just offer to grab a coffee.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Spending time with the boys. We really do try to get out and about on the weekends as much as we can. I also listen to a ton of audio books and podcasts on my commute. •
Favorites/This or That:
The potatoes in a crawfish boil.
Favorite vacation spot:
I was a big fan of Morocco.
How do you take your coffee?
All day long and black.
Chocolate or vanilla ice cream?
Pen or pencil?
They still make pencils?
Early bird or night owl?
Early bird, but not by choice.