For the past thirty years, Louisiana has lost an increasing number of its young people due to lack of opportunity at home. It is unthinkable that some Louisianans no longer have the privilege of finding a job and raising their children near family and friends. It is a deep loss to us all. We are losing our most precious resource, our children and grandchildren, because we can't get our economic house in order and create the kind of opportunity they need. This must change.
When will it change? It will change when we get serious about identifying and cultivating the very real sources of economic development within our borders; when existing businesses in Louisiana get the sustained help they need to maximize their potential; and when Louisiana becomes a place attractive to new businesses to open up shop in our state.
It means thinking outside the box about what Louisiana offers that is unique and rare, and showcasing that to the country and world. It means tapping undeveloped sources of innovation that can bring us to a whole new level. It means looking at our state's possibilities as a whole, not as some arbitrary division separating south and north Louisiana. We are one people. Yes, there has been some progress and inroads made, but we are still far from where we need to be.
We must study the economic and commercial successes of other states and other congressional districts; not be afraid to emulate what has worked. We should consult and confer with experts in every field to identify economic models that have succeeded, and that can work for us, too. I don't believe it is a virtue to act as though we know it all, or have all the answers. There are great sources of information and ideas we can draw on, and we'd be foolish not to take advantage of hard-earned knowledge to better our state and help it reach its potential.
It also means encouraging young people to honor their own unique inspirations, even if their area of interest or talent leads them away from a conventional academic route or career path. Great accomplishments and huge contributions have come from individuals once thought of as "outside the mainstream," who ultimately reached unheard of heights of success. Great things come from unexpected places.
By the grace of God, Louisiana is richly blessed with the natural resources and the raw talent to fundamentally change our economic landscape. There is no good reason we are lagging behind any state economically. Our state has the ability to grow by leaps and bounds. What we have lacked is the collective will to capitalize on Louisiana's rich culture, unique history, and special gifts for the benefit of all.
Louisiana's fortunes will change when we as a people fully embrace the creative possibilities that are right before our eyes. Only then can we make our state and this congressional district what it is capable of being: a modern cultural and economic hub that can compete anywhere. We need a revolution of thought in how we see ourselves. We need to own our potential. Then, and only then, will our children be given a realistic opportunity to live, rear their children, and grow older where they most dearly want to be: home.
We have a lot of work to do.