Tri-parishes progressing despite U.S. economy

The national media may be on a non-stop “woe is the world” soapbox, but the outlook in the Tri-parishes is much more positive.

Today’s issue of the Tri-Parish Times & BusinessNews paints a truer picture of how our region is progressing as 2009 nears an end.

Our parish presidents and corporate heads all speak to being mindful of current spending, but forging ahead with expansions and new projects. Across Terrebonne, Lafourche and St. Mary parishes, it’s a common tale.

With Community Development Block Grant funds, each of the parishes are continuing lingering recovery work in the wake of 2008’s back-to-back hurricanes. Parish President Michel Claudet intends to use the CDBG dollars to build portions of the Morganza-to-the-Gulf hurricane protection system, construct roads and stimulating the local economy by building a new cold storage facility for local fisheries.

Meanwhile, Lafourche Parish has an eye on “Feeding and Fueling America,” according to Parish President Charlotte Randolph.

Almost 40 percent of the country’s seafood and approximately 30 percent of the nation’s oil and gas travels through Port Fourchon.

Falling gas prices teamed with a poor seafood season – blame last year’s visitors, Gustav and Ike – have Randolph and parish officials tightening their belts a notch or two. Even powerhouse companies like Bollinger Shipyards note that new contracts have slowed.

It’s a reality of 2009. One government, the car industry and banks learned the hard way, and a lesson common folk have long understood.

Meanwhile, in St. Mary Parish, tourism is bustling and parish Economic Development Director Frank Fink and chamber exec Donna Meyer are seeking creative ways to attract new business.

No question, America is facing some challenging days ahead. It is comforting to know that Tri-parish officials and corporate types are strategically working on ways to survive the transition to 2010.

And through all we’ve been through, the Houma-Thibodaux area is ranked among the nation’s best small cities in the Milken Institute’s Best Performing Cities index.

“Given the economic landscape of the U.S. right now, it’s a very, very strong showing, South Louisiana Economic Council spokesman Charles Gaiennie said.

We couldn’t have said it any better.