From Cenla Daily:

The Baton Rouge Business Report says that Baton Rouge-based IEM will soon become North Carolina-based IEM.

IEM is a disaster management consulting firm with about 200 employees in Baton Rouge. According to the company, only about 50 of those are involved in headquarters operations, and the other 150 could remain in Baton Rouge but may opt to go to North Carolina. If they stay, it would soften the blow considerably, except for the other part of the announcement which says that IEM plans to hire 430 workers in North Carolina.

The announcement comes after what Baton Rouge Area Chamber President Adam Knapp calls the offer of “an unprecedented retention package” with financial incentives and plans to address workforce concerns. Let me repeat that: workforce concerns.

….

It’s probably true that Louisiana has too many four-year campuses. We probably have too much duplication. Yes, the five-board management system that emerged from the Constitutional Convention of 1973 is cumbersome. Yes, some money could be saved in the course of the upcoming legislative session.

But it was the presence of three major universities in the Research Triangle region that had IEM looking eastward. During my ten years in North Carolina, I never heard anyone say that the state spent too much on education. And as I look at performance measure after measure, as I look at the educational levels of our adult workforce, as I evaluate Louisiana’s knowledge resources, I find no evidence that we have too much of what we need most: knowledge.

All that is to say, that as the legislature and Governor turn their full attention to balancing the budget, I urge them to see education as something more important than a target for cost-cutting. And as they meet in Baton Rouge, I hope at least some of their attention will be directed to the educational needs of places like Central Louisiana. I hope that they will see that LSU-A must retain its four-year status and that Cenla must become home to a comprehensive community college in the very near future. Anything less would consign Cenla and its children to a choice between second-rate opportunities and relocating to a more opportunity- and knowledge-rich environment.

7 thoughts

  1. There’s another aspect of this whole worker/education dynamic that is missing as well. The US seems to be the only country where non-white collar occupations are derided and dismissed as unworthy and unneeded.

    One thing that I noticed in Germany was the preponderance of uniforms and such that belong to the various trades of engineers, plumbers, mechanics, electricians, you name it. What else was very evident was they in which those workers wore their uniforms with pride. They were proud to be plumbers, or electricians, or garbage collectors.

    The difference is societal. In other countries people recognize the value and necessity of every job, not just the glamourous ones. They understand that their city can’t function without someone running the water treatment plant. They understand their parks won’t be clean without someone picking up the trash. They understand they can’t have a cheeseburger from one of the zillion McDonald’s without someone there to cook the burger.

    They understand and recognize the value of all these professions, and the big, HUGE difference between here and there: they pay these people like they have the value they have.

    Anyone, the cashier at the grocery store, the produce clerk, the janitor — they all make enough to live a decent life. They get a pension, they don’t have to spend every waking hour worrying that they may endure some small $100 problem that leads to their financial ruin. Add to that the fact that hey have training, safety regulations, worker protections, benefits, etc. They have a job to do that keeps the whole economy going, and even though they may get paid less than an executive at Daimler, they all are paid and treated with the respect due an integral cog on their economic wheel.

    Instead you have the US and in particular Cenla, where anyone with less than a college degree is treated as nearly subhuman, where plumbers and carpenters and mechanics are seen as white trash dregs. Where most jobs at most levels are considered dead end. And perhaps worst of all, where employers demand college degrees, but then try to pass off $24k a year as an acceptable wage for those graduates.

    Until we recognize the value of all aspects of our economy and start training, paying, and treating everyone in our workforce with the respect their vital role is due, we will never be anything but a bunch of aimless people pointlessly kicking the can that is our economy around trying to figure out the next thing to poor money into that still won’t fix it.

  2. drew,

    not sure who you hang out with, but i know me friends and family dont look down on or denigrate the electricians, plumbers, etc. because they are the electricians and plumbers. that whole comment reeks of elitism. reminds me of our 1st football game in h.s. my senior year. we always started the season with menard. as we were coming out of the locker room for warm ups the cheerleaders for menard were hanging a sign that read “laugh now one of these days you’ll be working for us!” thats the group thats running this city now. and people wonder why they think they are smarter than everyone else.

    1. Dan,

      I can double-check if you would like, but I am reasonably certain that not a single City Councilman or member of the administration has ever belonged to the Menard High School cheerleading squad.

      Drew was just encouraging a greater societal respect for the working class, and somehow, he’s an elitist… and somehow, this is all comparable to your high school football days.

      I thought we were discussing jobs, the need for building capacity in a knowledge-based economy, and respect for the working class.

  3. Dan I’m glad you value these workers. I do as well, and there’s not elitist about my observations.

    But you cannot deny that we as a community do not treat blue collar workers, trades, and basic services employees with the same respect or assign to them the same value as we give to professors, lawyers, doctors, etc.

    If this weren’t the case we wouldn’t have so many people who work all day, everyday, just to still be as poor the next week as they were the last.

    Also, if these jobs are valued, why have we gotten rid of apprenticeships and skilled trades options within out basic educational system.

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