Incoming LED secretary tours region

Stephen Moret, Governor Jindal’s appointment as the new secretary of Louisiana Economic Development, spoke to the South Louisiana Economic Council last Wednesday afternoon in Thibodaux.

Moret has been meeting with local officials across the state, said SLEC spokesman Charles Gaiennie.

The secretary requested a meeting with SLEC to obtain a firsthand look at the Houma-Thibodaux economy and to talk to local officials involved with economic development, Gaiennie said.

“As LED secretary, I’m making sure I learn the players here,” Moret said. “I’ve made the attempt to get around the state.”

Moret toured John Deere in Thibodaux and Gulf Island Fabrication in Houma on Wednesday.

He said he is already acquainted with two local economic development officials, St. Mary Industrial Group Executive Director Cindy Cutrera and SLEC Executive Director Vic Lafont.

Moret said he has worked on ethics reform with Cutrera. He met with Lafont occasionally while the two were in Baton Rouge.

“I’ll be working with Vic Lafont to identify issues,” he said, “to see what’s a good fit for this area.”

Moret said he will be focusing on several aspects of economic development.

As part of business retention and expansion in the state, LED will emphasize economic competitiveness.

“We will be articulating where we need to change,” he said.

LED will look into business taxation as well.

Moret said he will focus on regional economic development in Louisiana. The effort will involve partnering with SLEC, he said.

“There’s an awful lot of opportunity if natural gas and oil stay with their prices,” he said.

Gov. Jindal wants tax money and fees dedicated to a roads and infrastructure development fund, according to Moret.

“There was so much recurring revenue last year,” Moret said, “it would have been good to dedicate some of it to infrastructure.”

LED will be promoting biofuels such as biodiesel and ethanol, an issue U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu spoke about in her talk to the Thibodaux Chamber of Commerce two weeks ago.

“There are several different players we’re looking at,” he said. “Of course, we want the value-added part to be here.”

Ultimately, the economy hinges on coastal restoration.

“Coastal restoration will be an economic driver in itself,” Moret said. “We’re looking at opportunities to accelerate it by bonding out future revenues,” echoing comments made by Gov. Jindal in Houma before and after his election.

Pictured from left are TEDA CEO Mike Ferdinand, LED Assistant Secretary Donald Pierson, LED Secretary Stephen Moret, South Louisiana Economic Council Executive Director Vic Lafont and Lafourche Parish Economic Development Director Gretchen Caillouet. * Photo by MIKE BROSSETTE