BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Governor John Bel Edwards took an optimistic stance about Baton Rouge and the state's future economic development while speaking during a luncheon Wednesday. Edwards spoke and took questions from local business leaders at the Baton Rouge Growth Coalition's quarterly luncheon. The event highlights economic growth in the area.
The governor highlighted the fact that the state leads the nation in direct foreign investment on a per capita basis. Louisiana is number two in overall direct foreign investment. When asked by reporters why businesses should move to Louisiana the governor responded, "For one, the river right here. The interstate, the river, the railroad tracks. We have such an advantage here in the Baton Rouge community and we just need to make sure that we're taking advantage of those."
Edwards explained the main concern of CEOs looking to make a major investment in Louisiana or expand their current business operation is the quality of state's "talent pipeline." He said the state needs to continue the current momentum of supporting its higher education system so businesses can feel confident they will have successful employees in Louisiana. The governor highlighted that during his term, the state has not cut funding for education from the general fund for the first time in a decade and fully funded the TOPS program.
The governor acknowledged the large number of homicides this year and said, "We're going to have to come together and fix [the crime problem]." Edwards cited the five shootings in a span of two hours saying, "We have to do better."
When asked why businesses and people should move to the area with the current crime he said, "First of all, it's a great place, and there are crime problems all across the country, but it's one that we're going to have to come together and fix, and it can be done. It will be done. I'm optimistic."