There are ominous trends apparent in Jefferson Parish. The Parish is losing population and a majority of those leaving are middle and upper income residents. Crime is increasing throughout the area and the educational system is perceived to be in a state of decline. There is a general lack of confidence in the area’s flood protection and drainage systems and a degree of anger and frustration expressed by residents about this. There are broad and general concerns about quality of life issues throughout both east and west bank areas. These factors and trends have become more apparent and are accelerating in the post Katrina era.
To address this situation, JEDCO has initiated a review of the EDGE2010 to determine if the scope of economic development initiatives should be broadened to address quality of life issues. The consensus of parish leaders was clear – quality of life is a critical and driving factor in the future prosperity of the parish. In this regard, an assessment of what can be done to address these concerns has been initiated. The following summary states the primary observations, thoughts and objectives recorded at a forum sponsored by JEDCO on June 7, 2007 to address these issues. The discussion of panel focused on three priority areas: leadership, quality of life, and economic development.
Community and Political Leadership
Objective: Encourage parish and business leaders to seize the opportunity to assume a greater leadership role in regional issues – particularly those directly affecting Jefferson Parish.
- Focus legislative and congressional initiatives on the pursuit of funding to improve community infrastructure, facilities, and services
- Encourage leadership initiatives from the business community and regional planning and economic development agencies
- Strive for more effective government at local, regional and state levels
Quality of Life Issues
Objective: Identify programs that recognize the problems affecting the quality of life in the parish and implement a high profile program to address the most immediate issues.
- Address the major issues perceived as diminishing the quality of life in Jefferson Parish
- Commit to and focus on improving communities and neighborhoods throughout the Parish
- Initiate an aggressive public outreach program to promote the advantages and benefits of living and doing business in Jefferson Parish.
Economic Development Initiatives
Objective: Focus on the retention of residents and businesses in the parish and region as a way of stabilizing the area.
- Maximize the opportunities associated with the transportation infrastructure and natural resources of Jefferson Parish
- Establish a development authority to address the redevelopment of blighted and underutilized properties.
- Assume an advocacy position to promote a higher level of business interest and investment in Jefferson Parish.
In an effort to stabilize the population of the Parish and improve the quality of life for its businesses and residents, the foregoing initiatives are thought to be of critical importance in short term. The primary directives in each of the three major initiatives (political leadership, quality of life, and economic development) will send a strong and positive message to the residents and businesses of Jefferson Parish. This is what is needed to address and reverse the ominous trends observed in recent years.