Thursday, October 9th, 2014
Charlotte, North Carolina
MORE PRIDE NEEDED IN LOUISIANA?
One of the biggest priorities facing Louisiana’s next governor 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 as I traveled up to the Blue Ridge Mountains in Western North Carolina recently to see the leaves change. Now I do admit a bit of favorable prejudice towards the Tar Heel State, having graduated from Chapel Hill back in the 60s. And 50 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 in Louisiana. There were two great university presses in the South – one at Chapel Hill and the other in Baton Rouge, with major American literary figures concentrated around the two state universities.
But an economic downturn hit both states in the late 70s. North Carolina quickly diversified and centered its future economic development on an innovative research triangle that attracted startup businesses from all over the nation. High oil prices enticed Louisiana to keep the status quo. And things haven’t changed much since then.
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. If they do, here is what they will find.
One of the first things you notice is the cleanliness, not just in Charlotte, but throughout much of the state. By and large, you just don’t see the litter that seems to cover Louisiana. Continue reading