LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - It’s been a long road for the local industry especially as the environmental movement took shape and ordinary citizens worried about harmful effects of pollution or accidents--and sometimes insisted: Not in my backyard.
Almost twenty years ago, an industry group was formed, to tell the local industry’s story, the good it brings to the community and to respond to criticism. That’s the Lake Area Industry Alliance. Now the first and only director of the alliance is retiring, and a new director is in place.
Nineteen years ago, Larry DeRoussel moved from a career in industry to executive director of the alliance. It was to help make sure people heard their side.
“The truth is, that industry, in the area of emissions, meets on a regular basis, continuous basis, all the regulations that are put upon them by the EPA, the LDEQ, the regulating agencies,” said DeRoussel.
DeRoussel says part of their objective was to make sure people had information.
“The facts that we communicate, cancer for example, cancer rates here are not any higher here than in any other part of the state,” he said.
As well, they have worked to convey the industry’s contribution to the economy and taxes.
“We’re trying to communicate new information that we haven’t put out there before, for example right now we’re focused on the taxes that are being paid by industry and how those taxes benefit our area and the agencies that utilize that tax money,” he said.
DeRoussel is confident he is leaving the organization in capable hands as he passes the reigns to Jim Rock, a chemical engineer with a long industrial career.
“My mission is the same mission as Lake Area Industry Alliance, which is to maintain open communication with the community, participate in community activities such as Chem Expo and Paint Recycling Days and things like that and improve the community,” said Rock.
And he says citizens are always welcome to contact the alliance to get answers to questions or concerns.
Twenty-three companies are members of the LAIA.