The West Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce held their annual banquet Wednesday evening, February 5, where new officers and board of directors members were installed.
Stephen Waguespack, president of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, spoke about the importance of the Louisiana education system to the future of the state’s economy.
“Eighty percent of the jobs of tomorrow are going to require critical thinking. As a country, we don’t do such a great job of that… As a state, we’ve got a pretty tough track record as well,” Waguespack said. “We’re 50th in reading, 48th in math. And as a country, we’re 17th and 26th in those two.
“So if we know we’re competing in a global economy and we know the jobs of tomorrow will require those skills, we’ve got to get to work. We’re ranked at the bottom of a country that’s middle of the pack, at best, against the industrialized nations.”
He said that there has been a lot of excitement around the state about the new business announcements, which will in turn bring jobs.
“There’s more than $60 billion of new announcements. It’s going to require 250,000 new jobs,” he said, adding that because of the types of new jobs being created, a focus on K12 education is of utmost importance.
“Of those 250,000 new jobs, 69,000 of those have to be stem related jobs – science, technology, engineering, math – by 2018.”
Waguespack said that along with K12 education, higher education is also going to play a large part in the state’s economic future.
“The reality is, if we go and announce all these plans and all these jobs come, they’re going to be filled. They’re going to be filled with our kids or the kids from other states,” he explained. “(Businesses) are not going to build all this stuff and leave them empty. They’re going to fill them – but the question is, will it be our kids? So K12 and higher education is a big piece.”
Also during the banquet, West Baton Rouge Superintendent of Schools, David Corona, was awarded the Pride of West Baton Rouge Award, and Yvonne Terrance was awarded the Chamber’s Volunteer of the Year award.
The following are the names of the individuals who were installed as the 2014 Executive Committee:
Juan Carrillo, Chairman; Scott Gaudin, Chairman-Elect; Drew Maciasz, Treasurer; Joy Hopkins, Ex-Officio; and Joanie Bishop, Member-at-Large.
The following are the names of the individuals who were installed as the 2014 Board Members:
Owen Cope, Kevin Durbin, Trevor Gautreaux, Teal Gray, Sandra Hughes, B.J. Militello, Toni Myer, Hampton Obier, David Ogwyn, Lis Patrick, John Richard, Julie Rose, Duane Smith, Ricky Sparks, Arnold Spiers, and Gene Stevens.