Reported By: Lee Peck
It was a who's who of Southwest Louisiana politicians and business leaders as more than 1,300 people wined and dined at the SWLA Chamber of Commerce's 104th Annual Banquet. The event is the Chamber's main fundraiser and provides money for the many programs and services throughout the year. Outgoing Chamber Board Chair Clyde Mitchell handed over the duties and the gavel to Dick Kennison of Kennison Forest Products, Inc. Kennison says he's ready to put party politics aside and move the region forward.
"It is not about being a republican, democrat or even an independent. We are neighbors working together to make Southwest Louisiana a great place to raise a family now and for future generations," said Kennison.
The applause continued as newly elected Governor Bobby Jindal was welcomed to the stage with a standing ovation. "If we truly want to see our kids grow up and pursue their dreams in Louisiana, we've got to do three things: One, we've got to wage war on incompetence and corruption. Two, we have to rid our state of the taxes that are holding us back. And three, we've got to provide the training for our workers so that we meet the needs of a high-tech modern economy," said Jindal.
Delivering the night's keynote speech just eight days after taking office, Jindal promised to hold elected officials accountable. "We are going to have a special session dealing with ethics starting February 10th so that the people of the country, the people of Louisiana know that our elected leaders are there to serve us and not themselves," said Jindal.
Following that special session on ethics Jindal says he'll hold another special session dealing with tax reform in hopes of attracting new business and industry to Louisiana.
"I'm here to tell you that we're going to eliminate the permanent, we're going to eliminate both taxes on utilities so that our businesses can invest and expand in Louisiana. We need a tax system that's fair to our people and the companies that want to hire them by getting rid of these taxes," said Jindal. "By getting rid of these taxes, Southwest Louisiana and the Port of Lake Charles are going to become even more attractive to businesses wanting to invest here."
But Jindal says he can't do it alone and asked for the continued support of the Chamber and members of the Southwest Louisiana delegation.
"You fought a good fight last year. I need you to come back February 10th and get it done this year so the country knows that we've changed," said Jindal.
Governor Jindal also told the business community he looks forward to many more visits to Southwest Louisiana and asked for their continued commitment and feedback in the upcoming special sessions dealing with ethics and tax reform.