The annual meeting of the Greater New Orleans, Incorporated business development group is normally a chance to reflect on success stories and progress. This year’s gathering had a twist, coming by chance on the day after a disappointing budget special session by the state legislature.
GNO, Inc. President Michael Hecht listed several new companies in the New Orleans region. He highlighted additional flights from the city to international locations. But he also told about 1,000 people in attendance that the state budget process needs to be revamped.
“It’s the underlying structural issues that if we don’t make these fundamental changes, it’s the definition of insanity, we’re going to be back here every year holding the budget together with spit and glue and we’re never going to get out of it," he said.
Hecht says the budget deficit that lawmakers failed to fix hurts the state’s economy – and image.
“Texas, right next door to us, is running – last year – something around $18 billion surplus. We’re running something like a $2 billion deficit," he said.
Hecht says GNO, Inc. will be concentrating on a government reform plan.
Incoming GNO, Inc. chair Maura Donahue says business expertise will focus on a major social problem.
“Our crime rate is the 800-pound gorilla in the room. Companies do not want to bring their employees to this area to open, to expand or to relocate to Louisiana unless they can ensure their employees a safe place for themselves and their families," she said.
Donahue says the group will also concentrate on criminal justice reform.