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The Daily Review/Jaclyn Breaux
Don Pierson, secretary of Louisiana economic development, speaks at a St. Mary Parish Chamber of Commerce meeting Wednesday. Pierson presented a positive outlook for Louisiana’s future economy.

State official optimistic about region's economy

Don Pierson, Louisiana economic development secretary, presented an optimistic outlook for the future of Louisiana at a St. Mary Parish Chamber of Commerce meeting Wednesday.
“Louisiana is succeeding and our future is bright,” was the overall message Pierson was working to get across to those in attendance.
Pierson acknowledged the economic downturn St. Mary Parish has seen due to the impact of low oil prices, specifically those in the Gulf of Mexico.
“If we could wave a magic wand and change that and see that part of the economy grow more robustly, that is something we would definitely want to do,” he said. “Certainly we recognize that oil and gas is going to be a foundation element for Louisiana’s economy going as far out on the horizon as we can see, but the facts are that the oil and gas industry that was far more robust here has taken a downturn.”
Pierson reminded the audience that “we have been through these economic cycles before and the lesson that we learned is around resiliency and the lesson that we learned is diversification in the economy. It’s not optional in today’s world due to the advances in technology that roll over every new industry.
“We can lose jobs offshore, there’s not much we can do about that, but what we can do is this diverse economy approach and small business is a very important part of that fabric,” Pierson said.
The Louisiana Economic Development Department “works to be very focused on supporting our small businesses. We continue to renew our programs, strengthen our programs, find new programs that will be attractive to small businesses.”
The focus that the Louisiana Economic Development program puts into small businesses recently won the department an award for the best suite of small business services in the nation.
Another thing Louisiana Economic Development did to help the local economies “was going out and having a conversation around the state and invited leaders of communities to come forward and participate in a certification program,” Pierson said.
“We called it Ready Community Program so that if the doorbell rings and somebody wants to bring a business expansion here, are you ready?” Pierson asked. “If we throw the football, will you catch it?
“It’s extra work. It’s meetings, it’s learning about available programs, it’s organizing, and while the mayors are the leaders, but when we deploy this program the business communities are involved, city councils are involved and we get a lot of people in the room to work and agree on things.” Pierson said.
Morgan City Mayor Frank “Boo” Grizzaffi and Berwick Mayor Duval Arthur went through the program and graduated.
“What this means from a community perspective is that you are better prepared to support and grow your local economy,” Pierson explained.
Pierson went on to congratulate the two mayors and present them with framed certificates. “This is important to you, your children, your grandchildren, and the people who care about and enjoy this community.”

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