Archive for Job Creation


World Water Day 2016: Louisiana, Water and Coastal Restoration Jobs

March 22, 2016 | Posted by Emily McCalla in coastal restoration, Economics, Economy, Job Creation, Restoration Projects, Videos

Today (March 22) is the United Nations’ World Water Day – an international observance and opportunity to learn about water-related issues, be inspired and teach others, and take action to make a difference.

Today, almost half of the world's workers – 1.5 billion people – work in water-related sectors, and nearly all jobs depend on water and those that ensure its safe delivery. Each year, the UN sets a theme for World Water Day corresponding to a current or future challenge. This year’s theme, “Water and Jobs,” focuses on how the quantity and quality of water can change workers' lives and livelihoods and even transform societies and economies for the better.

Water offers Louisianians nearly unlimited economic potential; but, in contrast, it poses a major threat to our coast, and the people and wildlife that call south Louisiana home. This is why coastal restoration is imperative for our vanishing coast – not only as protection against storm surge, but also to preserve the estuaries that produce 25% of American seafood, habitat for the 100 million birds that pass through the Mississippi River Delta each year, and home of nearly 2 million people living in or near the delta.

In Louisiana’s Coastal Zone, the water management sector – which includes coastal restoration, coastal protection and urban water management – is now the fastest growing industry, driving economic expansion and eclipsing the oil and gas sector in creating new jobs, according to a recent study by the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition using research by The Data Center.

Coastal restoration and protection is not only the biggest jobs creator in coastal Louisiana, it has some of the highest-paying jobs, averaging $69,277 per year.

So what is coastal restoration anyway and what does it look like? The Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, a member of the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition, has produced a video, A View of Restoration from the Barataria Basin, which gives a high-level overview of the issue, the impacts and causes of coastal land loss and an in-depth view of the different restoration projects occurring in the Barataria Basin.

Watch A View of Restoration from the Barataria Basin below for a better sense of how coastal restoration projects all work together to help restore our coast.

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Hottest Jobs in South Louisiana? Saving the Coast

March 16, 2016 | Posted by Emily McCalla in coastal restoration, Economics, Economy, Job Creation, Reports

Looking for the industry with the fastest growth and some of the best-paying jobs in coastal Louisiana?

Saving Louisiana’s vanishing coastline is now the fastest growing industry along Louisiana’s coast, driving economic expansion and eclipsing the oil and gas sector in creating new jobs. Coastal restoration and protection is not only the biggest jobs creator in coastal Louisiana – it has some of the highest-paying jobs, averaging $69,277 per year.

This hot job market is expected to get even hotter as hundreds of millions of dollars from the Gulf oil disaster – funds solely dedicated to restoring and preserving the coast – flow into the state over the next 16 years. These findings and more can be found in a new economic analysis by the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition, based on methodology by The Data Center.

By the numbers:

Southeast Louisiana: Jobs in water management – which includes coastal restoration, coastal protection and urban water management – have exploded in recent years, totaling more than 32,000 jobs in southeast Louisiana alone. By comparison, oil and gas provides 26,000 jobs to the region.

Major industries SE region

As Louisiana emerged from the depths of the recession in 2010, the growth in the water management industry demonstrates that this sector will be a critical driver of prosperity for the state’s future. Coastal restoration has created more than 5,700 new jobs in the region since 2010 and is expected to continue to grow.

Job Growth SE region

Southwest Louisiana: Though oil and gas remains the largest economic driver in southwest Louisiana, coastal restoration has seen a significantly higher net gain of jobs since 2010 and is now the second largest economic driver in the region.

Major industries SW region

The coastal restoration and protection industry has remained stable in southwest Louisiana at 12,000 jobs since 2014, while oil and gas suffered a net loss of approximately 3,000 jobs between 2014 and 2015. Jobs in water management have experienced a net gain of 3,784 jobs since 2010 in southwest Louisiana.

Job growth SW region

What’s driving this hot job market?

 This industry is growing because of an urgency to restore and protect the wetlands that are Louisiana’s first line of defense against rising seas and storms, combined with the hundreds of millions of dollars from the BP oil spill settlement and pollution penalties – money dedicated to coastal restoration – as well as Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA) funds and other sources coming to the state.

Coastal restoration not only helps to protect the people, industries and wildlife that call Louisiana’s coast home, it also fuels economic growth faster than any other single business sector in the region. The industry also provides good-paying jobs for Louisianians, averaging $69,277 per year. Investment in water management is a major win-win for the people, environment and economy of south Louisiana.

About this report

The analysis was conducted by the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition, which includes Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation and Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana. It was produced using The Data Center’s methodology.

Our press release and full report can be found online.

Learn why coastal restoration is urgently needed to protect and grow businesses in Louisiana and across the Gulf. Visit OurCoastOurEconomy.org.

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LA Business Organizations Tout Significant Economic Potential of Coastal Restoration to Gov. Edwards

March 14, 2016 | Posted by Emily McCalla in 2012 Coastal Master Plan, coastal restoration, Economy, Job Creation, Media Resources, State Legislature

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:

Elizabeth Van Cleve, Environmental Defense Fund, 202.553.2543, evancleve@edf.org
Emily Guidry Schatzel, National Wildlife Federation, 225.253.9781, schatzele@nwf.org
Jacques Hebert, National Audubon Society, 504.264.6849, jhebert@audubon.org
Jimmy Frederick, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, 225.317.2046, jimmy.frederick@crcl.org
John Lopez, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, 504.421.7348, jlopez@saveourlake.org
Caitlin Berni, Greater New Orleans, Inc., 504.527.6980, cberni@gnoinc.org

Louisiana Business Organizations Tout Significant Economic Potential of Coastal Restoration to Governor John Bel Edwards

Groups Urge Edwards to Protect Coastal Funding, Advance Master Plan for Long-term Prosperity of State

(New Orleans – March 14, 2016) Today, the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition sent a letter to Governor John Bel Edwards signed by 29 Louisiana business associations, chambers of commerce, economic development organizations and civic groups urging him to protect funding for coastal restoration and to move forward with the implementation of the state’s Coastal Master Plan. The groups thanked Governor Edwards for his leadership in protecting coastal restoration funds from mid-year budget cuts and for his continued statements that coastal funds should only be used for coastal restoration and protection.

“Our ongoing land loss crisis creates significant business risks to the many industries that depend on a healthy Gulf ecosystem,” said the letter. “A recent study prepared for the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority evaluated the economic impact of coastal land loss in the state. Their report showed that another 25 years of continued land loss would cost residents and business owners $2.1 billion to replace commercial and residential properties, roads, rails and pipelines lost due to erosion. Disruption to business activities during that same time period would cause an additional loss of $5.8 billion. Implementing our Coastal Master Plan can help reduce such losses.”

“Investing in coastal restoration will not only reduce the economic impact to businesses and communities, but will actually grow the economy through development of a new water management sector and expertise,” continued the letter. “The expected infusion of billions of dollars in coming years from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill settlements, GOMESA and other sources will fuel the creation of jobs and expansion of companies working in this sector.”

A recent analysis by the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition based on The Data Center’s methodology shows that water management – which includes coastal restoration, coastal protection and urban water management – is the fastest growing industry in southeast Louisiana, with more than 32,000 jobs. Coastal restoration is not only the biggest job creator in the region, it also has some of the highest-paying jobs, averaging $69,277 per year.

“Coastal restoration projects will not only rebuild our vanishing coast – they will create and sustain jobs, protect communities and provide a sustainable future for the people and industries that call Louisiana home,” said Steve Cochran, Campaign Director for the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition. “By safeguarding coastal dollars for coastal efforts, the state is keeping its commitment to restoring and protecting Louisiana’s coast.”

“Coastal restoration and protection will create long-lasting, good-paying jobs and be an economic driver for Louisiana,” said Michael Hecht, President of Greater New Orleans, Inc. “As evidenced in GNO, Inc.’s ‘State of the Sector: Water Management’ report, there are currently 30,350 people employed in the water management sector in the Greater New Orleans region. Additionally, this sector is predicted to grow by 23 percent over the next ten years. And with the influx of hundreds of millions of dollars in oil spill money for coastal restoration over the next 16 years – money that is dedicated solely to this growing industry – we will continue to create jobs and provide economic opportunities for the people and industries of coastal Louisiana.”

“The citizens and businesses of Louisiana are relying on you, as our new governor, to prioritize coastal restoration, protect coastal restoration funding and continue to implement restoration plans,” concluded the letter. “Thank you for your continuing attention to this top priority for Louisiana business interests and citizens.”

Read the letter in full along with all signers here: http://www.mississippiriverdelta.org/blog/2016/03/14/mrd-coalition-sends-governor-edwards-letter-touting-economic-potential-of-coastal-restoration/.

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The Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition is working to protect people, wildlife and jobs by reconnecting the river with its wetlands. As our region faces the crisis of threatening land loss, we offer science-based solutions through a comprehensive approach to restoration. Composed of conservation, policy, science and outreach experts from Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, we are located in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Washington, D.C.; and around the United States. Learn more at MississippiRiverDelta.org and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

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MRD Coalition Sends Governor Edwards Letter Touting Economic Potential of Coastal Restoration

| Posted by Emily McCalla in coastal restoration, Economics, Economy, Job Creation, State Legislature

Today, the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition sent a letter to Governor John Bel Edwards signed by 29 Louisiana business associations, chambers of commerce, economic development organizations and civic groups urging him to protect funding for coastal restoration and to move forward with the implementation of the state’s Coastal Master Plan. The groups thanked Governor Edwards for his leadership in protecting coastal restoration funds from mid-year budget cuts and for his continued statements that coastal funds should only be used for coastal restoration and protection.

View the full letter below:

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Water Management Industry Eclipses Oil & Gas as Jobs Leader in SE Louisiana, 2nd Across Coastal Zone

February 24, 2016 | Posted by Elizabeth Van Cleve in coastal restoration, Economics, Economy, Job Creation, Media Resources, Reports

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:

Elizabeth Van Cleve, Environmental Defense Fund, 202.553.2543, evancleve@edf.org
Emily Guidry Schatzel, National Wildlife Federation, 225.253.9781, schatzele@nwf.org
Jacques Hebert, National Audubon Society, 504.264.6849, jhebert@audubon.org
Jimmy Frederick, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, 225.317.2046, jimmy.frederick@crcl.org
John Lopez, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, 504.421.7348, jlopez@saveourlake.org

Water Management Industry Eclipses Oil and Gas as Jobs Leader in Southeast Louisiana, Second Across Entire Coastal Zone

Rapidly growing industry brings high-paying jobs, helps grow Louisiana economy

(NEW ORLEANS – February 25, 2016) The water management sector represents the largest economic driver in southeast Louisiana and the second largest in southwest Louisiana, according to new analysis released today by the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition. Economic drivers, such as water management, oil and gas, maritime, petrochemical, video production, and hospitality and tourism, are industries that drive regional growth and are indicators of economic development. With nearly 44,000 jobs, water management is the second largest industry driver across the entire Louisiana Coastal Zone – second only to oil and gas. In southeast Louisiana, the water management industry has eclipsed the oil and gas, maritime and hospitality industries as the leading jobs creator.

The water management industry is growing faster than any other major sector within Louisiana’s Coastal Zone and has the highest average wage among driver industries – $69,277 per year. And while other industries have been losing jobs, water management – which includes coastal restoration, coastal protection and urban water management – has added more than 5,700 jobs in southeast Louisiana since 2010 and provides significant opportunities for Louisiana workers.

Also today, Greater New Orleans, Inc. released its State of the Sector report on the water management industry. This analysis focuses on specifics of current and future water management workforce/job opportunities over the next ten years in the Greater New Orleans region. The report includes detailed information on current workforce demographics, projected top middle and high skill occupations, and sample career ladders. The report also provides insights into the factors driving growth and determining the current and future water management workforce needs in southeast Louisiana. See more at http://gnoinc.org/stateofthesector.

“As our state works to address its budget challenges, it is important to remember that investing in coastal restoration will create jobs and grow the economy, in addition to protecting existing businesses and communities,” said David Muth, National Wildlife Federation’s Gulf Restoration Director, representing the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition. “Investments made today in water management will more than pay off in the long run as our region becomes an economic hub for coastal restoration and climate resiliency, while also helping to protect the people, industries and wildlife that call coastal Louisiana home.”

With the influx of funds from the Gulf oil disaster and other federal sources, the water management sector is poised to continue to grow, fueling the economy of coastal Louisiana and the entire state. In addition to creating well-paying jobs in state, this sector has the potential to be a major export industry for our region, like that of technology for Silicon Valley. Coastal restoration and resiliency expertise gained in Louisiana can be exported to other coastal regions around the world facing similar threats from land subsidence and sea level rise.

“This data confirms that water management is the fastest growing sector in Louisiana. If we make the right decisions and protect coastal funding in the years ahead, we have a golden opportunity to set our region on a course of greater economic prosperity and improved environmental health for generations to come,” said Muth.

The analysis was produced by the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition, which includes Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation and Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana. The full analysis can be found on our website here.

Learn why coastal restoration is urgently needed to protect and grow businesses in Louisiana and across the Gulf. Visit OurCoastOurEconomy.org.

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The Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition is working to protect people, wildlife and jobs by reconnecting the river with its wetlands. As our region faces the crisis of threatening land loss, we offer science-based solutions through a comprehensive approach to restoration. Composed of conservation, policy, science and outreach experts from Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, we are located in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Washington, D.C.; and around the United States. Learn more at MississippiRiverDelta.org and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Vote Now: Which Coastal Restoration Slogan Should Appear on Dirty Coast Products?

July 30, 2015 | Posted by jhebert in Community Resiliency, Economics, Economy, Hurricanes, Job Creation, K10, Restoration Projects, Wildlife tourism

bird

Earlier this month, we put out a call for coastal restoration slogans that could be made into a design to be featured on Dirty Coast t-shirts and other products. We received an overwhelming response of more than 200 highly-creative submissions, making our job of selecting which to feature extremely difficult. So much so that we chose five finalists instead of the originally planned three.

They are: 

  1. The World Needs More Louisiana
  2. Greaux the Delta, Greaux Our Home
  3. Save the Boot
  4. Let the River Run Through It
  5. Keep LAND in Our Wetlands

So, we need YOU to help us decide. Vote here for your favorite slogan today through Thursday August 6.

The slogan receiving the most votes will be made into a design that Dirty Coast will place on t-shirts and other products sold in stores and online over the next year. A portion of sale proceeds will go to the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition to help us educate and engage people about the need for coastal restoration. The person who submits the winning slogan will receive a $200 gift card to Dirty Coast, second place will receive a $100 gift card, and third place a $50 card. All three finalists will receive a coastal tour led by experts in coastal restoration.

We’ll announce the winning slogan and unveil the design at a launch party and happy hour on August 20 at 6 p.m. at Dirty Coast’s new Marigny location (2121 Chartres Street, New Orleans, LA).

We hope to see you there!

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IPCC report examines climate change’s effects on Mississippi River Delta and strategies for adaptation

August 5, 2014 | Posted by Delta Dispatches in Community Resiliency, Economics, Hurricanes, Job Creation, Reports

By Keenan Orfalea, Communications Intern, Environmental Defense Fund

“There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction.” – President John F. Kennedy

The Mississippi River Delta – one of the largest and most productive wetland ecosystems in North America – is teeming with life, and this rich bounty has supported the development of unique cultures and traditions, alongside industry. At the same time, Louisiana’s fragile coastal wetland ecosystems are facing collapse. Today, the region also faces serious threats from global climate change, combined with other manmade impacts. Climate impacts could devastate Gulf fisheries, submerge critical infrastructure like Port Fourchon and imperil cities such as New Orleans. These outcomes are not inevitable, though, if meaningful action is taken.

Coastal wetlands are the first line of defense against climate change impacts such as storm surge. Unfortunately, the Mississippi River Delta has been losing wetlands at an alarming rate as a result of unsustainable river and coastal management practices. Since 1932, Louisiana has lost nearly 1,900 square miles of land, and every hour, an area of land the size of a football field turns into open water.

While this gradual process may go unnoticed from day to day, the consequences became clear through the devastation of natural disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Intact coastal wetlands could have protected against the force of these storms, because they have the potential to buffer storm surge. For communities that lie behind natural wetland barriers, restoring such ecosystems will increase communities’ resiliency and ability to thrive in the face of climate change.

Slide1

A recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) focused on the observed and predicted effects of climate change as well as adaptation strategies. The report found strong evidence of variation in key environmental indicators over the past two decades and predicts that this variation is likely to continue into the future, generating increasingly severe effects over time. The report also explores what can be done to confront these new challenges and protect against the most extreme impacts.

For vulnerable, low lying areas like southern Louisiana, any effective adaptation plan will have to utilize multiple strategies simultaneously. Coastal wetland restoration will be one of the most important and cost effective tools for adapting to climate change.

There are costs associated with any restoration program, but strategic investment could produce economic gains for the entire Mississippi River Delta region. According to an analysis by The Center for American Progress and Oxfam America, long-term investment in ecosystem services returned $15 in value for every $1 spent. The same study found that an average of 17 jobs were created per $1 million in spending on ecosystem services, compared to only 9 jobs created from the same investment in the offshore oil and gas industry.

Adaptive coastal planning delivers further benefits by mitigating potential losses from storm damage and sea level rise. Taken together, the gains in human safety and economic stimulus stemming from adaptive planning far exceed the costs of any coastal restoration program. Embarking on this course of action will not only ensure the long-term sustainability of the Mississippi River Delta and its communities, but it could also lay the foundations for future economic development.

Climate change is a global problem, but the earliest and most severe developments will be felt in areas that are most exposed, like the low-lying and disappearing Mississippi River Delta. While mitigating the future impacts of climate change will require an international effort, adaptation must take place on the regional and local levels. Louisiana’s most pressing threats stem from its vanishing coastline. In order to meet the challenges of the future, policymakers and citizens must take immediate action in order to reverse this land loss crisis, because comfortable inaction is not an option.

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GNO, Inc. announces launch of Coalition for Coastal Resilience and Economy

July 15, 2014 | Posted by Elizabeth Van Cleve in Economy, Job Creation

By Elizabeth Skree, Communications Manager, Environmental Defense Fund

Last Friday, Greater New Orleans, Inc. (GNO, Inc.) announced the launch of the Coalition for Coastal Resilience and Economy (CCRE). CCRE is a coalition of Louisiana businesses and business leaders who are advocating for sustainable restoration of Louisiana’s disappearing coastal wetlands, deltas, rivers and coastline. This new business coalition will support an integrated three-legged framework of coastal restoration, appropriate structural flood mitigation and non-structural flood mitigation. The group includes representatives from a wide variety of business and industry sectors including banking, energy, real estate, entertainment, communications, navigation and manufacturing.

1280px-USACE_New_Orleans_skyline

Photo credit: Michael Maples, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Via U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Digital Visual Library

Since the 1930s, Louisiana has lost nearly 1,900 square miles of wetlands, and the state continues losing land at the rate of one football field every hour. This loss is attributed to a host of causes, including oil and gas exploration, leveeing of the Mississippi River, hurricanes, coastal erosion and subsidence.

Louisiana's land loss crisis is not just an environmental problem – it is an economic crisis. Industries, businesses and communities in Louisiana depend on the delta for protection from storms and for a sustainable future. Thankfully, there are solutions to address and resolve this land loss crisis. And just as many causes contribute to Louisiana's land loss problem, it will take a combination of scientific solutions to resolve it.

Restoring the Mississippi River Delta will not only restore thousands of acres of protective wetlands and habitat, but it will also protect Louisiana businesses, cities and infrastructure. It will also create new and sustain existing jobs in the region. Find out more about how coastal restoration protects industries and creates economic growth at ourcoastoureconomy.org.

CCRE’s mission is to:

  • Promote the business case for coastal restoration in Louisiana
  • Maximize RESTORE Act funding and other federal funds that are allocated to Louisiana
  • Ensure that RESTORE Act funding and other federal funds are spent on their intended purposes
  • Leverage RESTORE Act funding and other federal funding to direct other revenue streams
  • Create opportunities to engage local businesses and workforce in implementation

“Water is the existential issue for Southeast Louisiana,” said Michael Hecht, President & CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc. “Our region has a take-it-or-leave-it opportunity to make strategic investments in the environment today that will ensure continued economic growth and opportunity tomorrow, and CCRE will help ensure this happens.”

“Partnerships such as these allow the state to engage business interests and other stakeholders so that we can work together to achieve our goals of restoring and protecting this valuable resource, coastal Louisiana,” said Jerome Zeringue, Executive Director of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.

CCRE is composed of a diverse group of CEOs and executives from the Greater New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Terrebonne-Lafourche regions. Members include:

  • Marty Mayer, President & CEO, Stirling Properties (CCRE Chair)
  • Justin Augustine, Regional Vice President, Veolia
  • Dale Benoit, Owner, Print-­‐All, Inc.
  • Rita Benson LeBlanc, Owner/Vice Chairman of the Board of the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans
  • Sharon Bergeron, Vice President of Commercial Lending, Coastal Commerce Bank
  • Donna Fraiche, Founding Member of Baker Donelson’s Louisiana offices, Former Board Member of the Louisiana Recovery Authority
  • Fran Gladden, Vice President of Government and Public Affairs, Cox Communications Southeast Region
  • Philip Gunn, Managing Director of New Orleans Office, Postlethwaite & Netterville
  • Will Hales, Assistant Vice President, Iberia Bank
  • Tara Hernandez, President, JCH Development
  • Merritt Lane, President & CEO, Canal Barge Company, Inc.
  • Jay Lapeyre, CEO, Laitram, LLC
  • G.F. Gay Le Breton, Managing Director, Chaffe & Associates
  • Brandon Nelson, Vice President of Commercial Banking, Whitney Bank
  • Mark Spansel, Partner, Adams & Reese
  • Lizette Terral, President, New Orleans Region, JP Morgan Chase Bank
  • Mickey Thomas, President & CEO, South Louisiana Bank
  • Brent Wood, State Government Affairs Manager, Chevron

“As a business leader in a coastal community, I believe it is critical to safeguard our current and future assets so that we can continue to expand and grow our businesses with confidence,” Sharon Bergeron, Vice President of Commercial Lending, Coastal Commerce Bank. “Yet while protection of our current economy is paramount, Southeast Louisiana is also in a unique position to expand our expertise of coastal restoration and export this specialized knowledge to new regions, thereby creating new jobs and new industries for Louisiana firms and residents.”

More information on the Coalition for Coastal Resilience and Economy can be found here: http://gnoinc.org/news/publications/press-release/gno-inc-announces-coalition-for-coastal-resilience-and-economy/.

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Wildlife tourism in Louisiana

September 5, 2013 | Posted by Delta Dispatches in BP Oil Disaster, Job Creation, RESTORE Act, Wildlife tourism

This is the second post in a series about wildlife tourism and the Gulf Coast economy.

By Will Lindsey and Rachel Schott, Environmental Defense Fund

Datu Research LLC’s recently released report, “Wildlife Tourism and the Gulf Coast Economy,” shows how wildlife tourism is a vital component of the Gulf Coast economy and links the industry’s success to the health of the Gulf’s unique environment and ecosystems. Taking a closer look at the report allows one to see the full economic impact of wildlife tourism on each of the five Gulf Coast states as well as the businesses directly and indirectly associated with wildlife tourism in the region. In coastal areas, tourism jobs can account for 20-36 percent of all private sector employment.

Louisiana receives more than 2 million wildlife tourists every year, and the state’s coastal parishes host nearly 4,400 wildlife tourism-related businesses. Wildlife tourism includes recreational fishing, hunting and wildlife watching. These guide and outfitter companies, which tend be small businesses, have a big economic impact on their communities. There are also hundreds of lodging and dining establishments that cater to wildlife tourists, providing a significant cumulative impact on the local economy.

A Louisiana-based guide company, Lost Land Environmental Tours, is one such business that provides services for wildlife tourists by offering tours of the swamps and wetlands. Their guides engage with and educate customers on issues that threaten coastal Louisiana, such as wetlands loss and erosion, and provide information about the importance of preserving, protecting and rebuilding this valuable natural resource.

Lost Land is increasingly concerned about the ecological health of the Gulf, as it is directly tied to the viability of their business and other outdoor businesses. “We strive to show people the beauty and the lushness of our ecosystem,” said Marie Gould, co-founder of Lost Land. “We end up showing people small patches of the way things should be and a lot of dead and dying forests.”

Numerous wildlife tourism businesses stand to lose if coastal wetlands loss is not addressed with timely restoration projects. Funding from the RESTORE Act and other monies related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill are expected to provide monetary support for these urgent projects. This funding is needed to protect and restore the natural environment as well as the economic viability of the entire Gulf Coast region.

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What is wildlife tourism?

August 23, 2013 | Posted by Delta Dispatches in BP Oil Disaster, Job Creation, Reports, Wildlife tourism

This is the first in a series of posts about wildlife tourism and the Gulf Coast economy.

By Will Lindsey and Rachel Schott, Environmental Defense Fund

A new economic report by Datu Research LLC studied the important contribution that wildlife tourism provides to the economic vitality of 53 coastal counties and parishes across the Gulf Coast states. Wildlife tourism, which includes wildlife watching, recreational fishing and hunting, generates $19 billion per year in revenue for the Gulf Coast. Renowned for its unique culture and outdoor opportunities, the Gulf Coast environment provides world-class recreational activities for millions of tourists every year.

According to the report, “Wildlife Tourism and the Gulf Coast Economy,” more than 20 million people participate in these activities across the five Gulf Coast states every year. The study found that after taking into account businesses and economic sectors that rely on wildlife tourists, the industry produces more than $19 billion per year in revenue. This income is generated by a variety of industries, including guide and outfitter business as well as the lodging and restaurant establishments that provide services to wildlife tourists traveling to the area.

The study demonstrates that a healthy Gulf Coast is not only an important ecological resource for the region but is also a vital economic resource, providing more than $5.3 billion in tax revenues annually and numerous employment opportunities throughout the region. From sunbathing on the beaches of Alabama and Florida to fishing and hunting in Louisiana and Texas, tourists find enjoyment in the natural beauty of the Gulf Coast.

Yet this critically important wildlife recreation sector will continued to be threatened unless policy makers take bold steps to protect our eroding and degraded coastlines. “It is important that we take care of our most valuable natural assets,” said Mark Romig, President of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation, at a press conference in New Orleans for the release of the report. “We need coastal restoration to protect our economic base… It’s right for the environment, right for business, right for people, and right for jobs.”

Knowing the economic impact of wildlife tourism on the Gulf Coast region makes coastal restoration even more essential and timely. Many people and businesses rely on the resources provided by the Mississippi River Delta and Gulf Coast, and the economic viability of the area can be secured by ensuring the resiliency of this diverse, yet fragile, region for decades to come.

Investing in coastal restoration, as through the RESTORE Act and other monies stemming from the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, will help the Gulf Coast ecosystem as well as the tourism industry which depends on a healthy Gulf.

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