"People are saying we are becoming the 'new New Orleans East,'" should be considered a compliment. Home to NASA Michoud (where Boeing is building Space Launch Systems for 10 future missions to the Moon and Mars), one of the largest coffee-roasting facilities in the world (Folgers) and the rebirth of an iconic beverage brand at an 85,000 square foot brewery with the capacity to produce 100,000 barrels a year (Dixie), New Orleans East is a driver for the region’s economy, including communities on the north shore, like Slidell.
Given the commitment of New Orleans’ political and business leadership to regionalism, it was quite disappointing to read comments by Slidell Police Chief Randy Fandal that are counter to all efforts to connect the north shore and south shore, commercially and civically. Uninformed and unconstructive comments by leaders like Fandal who should know better, sow division unnecessarily and reduce trust across adjacent communities.
With a population exceeding 80,000 law-abiding, taxpaying and engaged residents seeking to create the best lives for their families, if it was an independent city, New Orleans East would be the state’s sixth-largest and one of Louisiana’s most affluent cities with a higher median family income than Baton Rouge ($44,344), St. Bernard Parish ($40,601), and Lake Charles ($43,858).
I hope that this is a teachable moment not only for Fandal but for anyone who says that Slidell is becoming New Orleans East. The lesson: any community should strive to have the level of economic activity, population and civic engagement, including partnerships with law enforcement found in New Orleans East.
Quentin L. Messer Jr.
president and CEO, New Orleans Business Alliance