GO Group Announces Addition of Task Forces
May 15, 2015
The Southwest Louisiana Task Force for Growth and Opportunity (GO Group) announced its development of four task forces to begin working on long-term solutions to many of the issues identified in the November 2014 release of the Southwest Louisiana Regional Impact Study. The task forces formed include: Growth Planning, Public Service Improvements, Education and Workforce Development and Special Community Related Initiatives.
According to Mary Kaye Eason, chairman of the Public Service Improvements Task Force, the time to address change is now. “Numerous plans for economic development projects are in the pipeline and our area is beginning to see and feel the impacts of projects like the Sasol Ethane Cracker and Derivatives Complex and others,” says Eason. “Our work includes determining how our area will be impacted by the construction and operation of these new industrial expansion projects, and we’re now at the point of formulating priorities and strategies relating to some of the recommendations that were made in the Regional Impact Study. Community-driven change starts when community leaders are at the table, engaged, and objectively discussing the strengths and weaknesses of our community. The level of participation we’re seeing is motivating as we all want Southwest Louisiana to emerge from this growth better and stronger,” she says. “The process is complex, but the mission is simple - ensure our communities are able to handle and sustain the growth while ensuring a good quality of life.”
Area businessman Brent Lumpkin, chairman of the Growth Planning Task Force, is positive about the growth the area has begun to experience but knows the peak of the increase is upon us. “Sustainable growth in our area will result from planned growth,” says Lumpkin. “Optimally, infrastructure should lead development, but that isn’t how our community has traditionally grown. We typically react to growth with developments that aren’t in the areas most suitable for those types of projects,” he says. “We can do better, and we have to, if we want to sustain our quality of life and preserve our culture.”
Ann Knapp leads the GO Group’s Education and Workforce Development Task Force, while Rick Richard serves as chairman of the group’s Special Community Related Initiatives Task Force.
Each task force has a list of issues to discuss and evaluate in an effort to help them determine the scope and focus of their work. The groups will announce priority initiatives at the GO Group’s next public meeting. Among the initiatives the groups will evaluate in determining priorities are:
Growth Planning Task Force – housing, development standards, environmental standards, transportation
Public Service Improvements Task Force – drainage, water, fire, sewer, and airport system evaluation
Education & Workforce Development Task Force – increased community awareness of career and technical education programs, parishwide master planning in area schools, alternative funding sources for higher education institutions, funding for capital improvements in area schools
Special Community Related Initiatives – community development corporation, redevelopment authority, mobility improvements, regional transit
In 2014, Sasol funded a regional impact study to aid in the analysis of the regional effects of announced industrial expansion projects. The study evaluated potential impacts to housing, utilities, education, workforce development, transportation, public safety, public health, the environment, small businesses and community relations. The study and its recommendations are available at www.gogroupswla.com.
The GO Group focuses on developing strategies to ensure the successful implementation of planned economic development projects for Southwest Louisiana. Local community leaders, stakeholders and elected officials formed the group to identify the various socioeconomic issues involved with such projects.