Treasurer Kennedy warns against choking economic growth - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Treasurer Kennedy warns against choking economic growth

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We've heard a lot about the explosive growth and jobs coming our way -- but how well prepared will the area be when it comes to infrastructure?

State Treasurer John Kennedy was in Lake Charles on Tuesday. He said that's going to be our biggest challenge.

When Kennedy was talking about infrastructure, he was talking mostly about roads, like the one at north Enterprise Boulevard where they plan an extension.

And he said Baton Rouge is going to play a key role in making sure the area gets what it needs. Roads get people where they need to go and they help commerce thrive, unless they are inadequate.

Kennedy came to Lake Charles on Tuesday with a warning.

"The quickest way to choke your growth is to not have your infrastructure keep up with it and I'm talking about roads," he said.

Kennedy told members of Lake Charles Rotary Club that helping with that is a role Baton Rouge can play and should.

"We complain about roads in Louisiana but if you look at our capital outlay, our building budget at the state, we spend less than 50 percent of our building budget on roads," said Kennedy.

Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach said Kennedy's support is encouraging. 

"To have the chairman of the State Bond Commission to recognize that you have infrastructure needs and those infrastructure needs are legitimately, directly related to economic growth and development, that's a big step. That's an important statement for the treasurer to make," said Roach.

Both Kennedy and Roach think there is time to keep pace with infrastructure needs of business and industry as growth occurs. 

"If you try to do all of that construction at one time, then you will create the very thing you say you're trying to avoid. You will create gridlock, because people can't move. You have to prioritize your projects and you have to prioritize the construction," said Roach.

Roach said the Cove Lane interchange coming soon near Ameristar shows how government and business can work together to meet infrastructure needs.

Kennedy said Baton Rouge needs to look toward local leaders and legislators for guidance on priorities.

Kennedy said they may have to tell other parts of the state "No." He said it's important that Louisiana put its money where the growth is.

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