It could mean jobs and economic development. Today, Acadiana and Southwest Louisiana signed a compact establishing what they call the greater Southwest Louisiana Super Region.
People may remember, it seemed like an uphill battle when Lake Charles and Lafayette areas fought to stay in the same congressional district-- but they succeeded. And now the collaboration has brought forth what they hope will be a super region for economic growth and development.
Business and economic development leaders from the Sabine to the Atchafalya gathered in Crowley to formalize a compact that all believe can have tremendous economic benefits for all. They say in today's global economy-- success depends on collaboration rather than competition. George Swift is the President of the Southwest Louisiana Alliance. "This first step comes today after months and really after years of discussion, trust building and acknowledgement that we're stronger together than apart,"said Swift.
As emphasized during redistricting, the Southwest Louisiana and Acadiana areas share many common industries, culture, and concerns such as hurricanes and coastal erosion as well as interstate ten. Congressman Charles Boustany says it's truly a historic day. "Coming together in this compact from the Atchafalya to the Sabine, this is a region that's going to drive the Louisiana economy to prosperity beyond anything we've ever seen before. We're already doing it and now with the signing of this compact, you're going to see things really soar,"said Boustany.
Rob Guidry is president of the Lafayette Chamber. "We have to work together rather than competitively to make a difference for the people who come behind us," said Guidry.
So, they pledge to combine talents in key areas such as research, transportation and infrastructure and international trade--some like Gregg Gothreaux of the Lafayette Economic Development Authority already know it can work. "I was born in Lake Charles and I grew up in Franklin and Eunice and Welsh. I'm the president of the Lafayette Economic Development Authority. I live in Churchpoint. My wife is a former miss Eunice who works as an assistant D.A. In Opelousas, Louisiana,"said Gothreaux.
The effort isn't just about the cities. In addition to Lafayette and Calcasieu, eleven other parishes participating are Allen, Beauregard, Cameron, Evangeline, Jeff Davis, Acadia, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary, Iberia and Vermilion.