CROWLEY – The Crowley Chamber of Commerce held it’s 2008 banquet on Thursday night at the Rice Festival Building.
The festivities kicked off at 6 p.m. with a cocktail hour, and the banquet itself began at 7 p.m., with Jay Suire introducing the various local dignitaries present for the evening, who included Senator Dan Morrish, Representative Jack Montoucet, Judge John Trahan, former Sheriff Ken Goss, Crowley Mayor Greg A. Jones, and former Crowley mayor Isabella dela Houssaye.
Outgoing Chairperson Debbie Spallino gave the opening remarks, telling the crowd of local buinesspeople and leaders in the community that she had thought about using last year’s speech as a joke, and offering ten bucks to anyone who could guess what portions of the old speech she used.
She also spoke about the various projects the Chamber had undertaken last year, including successful Business After Hours, and the “very successful” Golf Classic.
These events provide important networking activities to all who attend,” said Spallino, who also mentioned the launch of the new chamber website.
“We all know there is power in numbers, and together we can do great things,” remarked Spallino, who also asked for the members continued support of the Chamber. “We value your input and appreciate your effort.”
The guest speaker for the evening was Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu, who spoke about tourism and it’s role in rebuilding Louisiana after the destruction caused by Hurricanes Rita and Katrina.
Landrieu began with remarks about the hard work undertaken by the state in past years, and the new opportunities that are now being offered. He talked about the large turnover that took place in the state House and Senate, where 65 percent of the seats changed hands.
Landrieu mostly focused on the topic of tourism, which is the second largest industry in the state, bringing in $9 billion and 126,000 jobs. He spoke about establishing opportunities in Crowley, with projects such as the Main Street Restoration Program and the Opera House, and creating an exciting place to visit here.
Landrieu, who heads the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, summarized that the department is trying to build jobs by establishing a cultural economy, of which tourism is a big part.
He also spoke about the blossoming film industry in the state, and the decision to create an environment for it, by training and educating young people for that line of work, and creating incentives to draw production companies to the state. Landrieu theorized that this decision is also applicable to other industries in the state, and that Louisiana has to find a way to keep its resources, including material and personnel, here. He stated a series of principles for Louisiana to use to reach this goal. The first was that diversity is a strength, not a weakness, and that the best of people, no matter what race or color, can be found in Louisiana. The second was that the state needs to diversify, and not just focus on what we do really well. He cited as an example the oil industry that dominated the state during the 70s and 80s, and how the state economy became to depend on it so. The third was that regional cooperation is essential to global competition, and that unless we work together, we will have a hard time competing in the global market. The fourth was that Louisiana has to stop giving her resources away. And finally, that the state has to stop judging itself by the Southern Average, and instead judge itself by the National Average, and aspire to excellence instead of settling for less.
“We have to begin to aspire to the highest standard,” remarked Landrieu.
In his closing remarks, Landrieu mentioned all the good things the state has to offer, including a great environment for work and play, and our faith in God, and our patriotism. He remarked about the sacrifices made by the 256th Brigade of the National Guard, and how we can never take our freedom for granted.
“We understand that freedom is not free,” said Landrieu. “It is something we have to earn.”
During the course of the evening, Outstanding Young Citizens Adrienne Trahan of Notre Dame High School, Kelley Nelson of Crowley High School and Katy Newsom of Northside High School; Humanitarian of the Year Joe Freeland; and Businessman of the Year Mike Francis were recognized. Representative Jack Montoucet presented each with a certificate of recognition from the House of Representatives, and each of the Outstanding Young Citizens were given a $500 scholarship from the Florence Mauboules Trust Fund.
Final remarks were given by Incoming Chairman Bryan Gielen, who remarked about all the ongoing projects being hosted by the Chamber.
“I am humbled and grateful for the opportunity to share it with you all,” he said.