Area progress slowed by blight

Momma always said, “First impressions mean everything.” Well, maybe those weren’t her exact words, but she made sure that you didn’t go out in public until your hair was brushed, your clothes matched, and then there was that whole clean underwear in case you were in a crash thing.

Initial viewings do count. They matter in personal interaction and they matter in business. Jobs can be lost because of a bad first impression and trying to attract new industry to a community is hampered when a prospective employer and taxpaying industrialist right away sees property and buildings that have been abandoned, are in disrepair or just need a good cleaning.

The Tri-parish area is a great place to work and live. The majestic cypress towering out of inland waterways, the soothing sound and motion of sugar cane waving in the breeze, natural wildlife, attractive homes, historic structures, first class business locations, and the people cannot be beat.

However, the positives we have going for us are often hidden behind buildings that have been neglected and lost both their usefulness as well as their appeal.

Terrebonne Parish Council Chairwoman Arlanda Williams has committed herself to fight blight caused by derelict property owners, absentee slumlords and local government’s lack of passing and enforcing meaningful zoning ordinances.

Williams said this week that such properties offer nothing more than a draw for criminal activity and confirmed that they hamper any attempt to attract new industry to the area.

The Houma-Thibodaux corridor has an opportunity to be a major economic player in southeastern Louisiana. Some progress has been made. But those strides could be severely stalled if stronger standards are not set to reduce blight.

It is time community leaders, businesses, property owners and real estate investors remember what Momma tried to teach us. Then we will see real progress.