Capitol Ideas

The Port of South Louisiana hosts an “Economic Initiative” breakfast at Washington Mardi Gras

2023 Washington Mardi Gras | Rredi Breakfast
St. John the Baptist Parish Officials: (L-R) Councilwoman Tania Schnyder, Economic Development Board Committee Member Elizabeth Joseph, Parish President Jaclyn Hotard, Assessor Lucien Gauff, III, Director of Economic Development Michelle Jenkins Miller, Director of Purchasing Peter Montz, and Councilman Michael Wright

In January, the Port of South Louisiana had the honor of hosting an “Economic Initiative” breakfast at the historic Washington Mardi Gras event in the District of Columbia. This event allows political and business leaders from various parts of Louisiana to celebrate the state’s unique cultural traditions at the country’s capitol, while also gathering to hear from the region’s congressional delegation and elected officials.

Their mutual goals are to bring improvement and positive change to the state of Louisiana, and to exhibit and celebrate Louisiana traditions.

The 2023 breakfast was attended by people from the Louisiana state legislature, local leaders from the River Region, south Louisiana governmental officials, industry leaders, business associates, and association members. “The breakfast was a smashing success!” said Port of South Louisiana’s public information officer Alexandra “Alex” Hernández. “It has become one of the must-do events of the Washington Mardi Gras.”

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The Economic Initiative is a shared overall economic development vision held between the parishes of the River Region and the Port of South Louisiana to target industries that are conducive to growth and prosperity for their respective communities, as well as fit within the social fabric of the region. Louisiana’s River Region comprises the St. Charles, St. John the Baptist, and St. James parishes and located between New Orleans and Baton Rouge along the Mississippi River. 

The River Region boasts one of America’s largest industrial complexes that comprises agricultural, petrochemical, and manufacturing enterprises. The region’s ideal location, competitive market access, and highly skilled labor pool, are reflected in the continued investment in the region from industrial magnates. 

RREDI was formed in 2004 to develop a collective strategy to further economic growth and diversification of the region,. The River Region Economic Development Initiative is committed to working in tandem with the various parishes for the economic benefit of the river region. 

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This year the Economic Initiative breakfast, hosted at the Washington Hilton Hotel in DC, included several notable speakers and was emceed by Port of South Louisiana CEO Paul Matthews. Noteworthy speakers included Senator Bill Cassidy, Congressman Troy Carter, Congressman Garret Graves, Congressman Mike Johnson, Congressman Clay Higgins, Louisiana Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungresser, St. John the Baptist Parish President Jaclyn Hotard, St. Charles Parish President Matthew Jewell, and St. James Parish President Peter Dufresne.

The Washington Mardi Gras event has a long and interesting history. It had a false start in 1938 when the Louisiana State Society of D.C. nixed it just days prior to the celebration, but in 1944 the Society’s president C.J. Bourg and Lt. Col. Leonce Legendre decided to throw a Mardi Gras-style celebration on George Washington’s birthday—February 22. For the next thirteen years, the event continued intermittently due to international conflicts such as the Korean War and the Cold War. 

Then in 1957, after much opposition from the Society and the Louisiana delegation, Russell Long insisted and achieved his goal of creating The Mystick Krewe of Louisianians. They were eager to introduce fellow Washingtonians to their favorite holiday. Twenty years later, in 1977, the Washington Mardi Gras Association was formed as the official sponsor, later to be replaced by the non-profit organization, the Mystick Krewe of Louisianians. 

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The Washington Mardi Gras event in DC began as an exhibition of the spirit of Mardi Gras, but over the years, and into modern times, has evolved into a celebration of Louisiana, its policies and its people. From its inception, Washington Mardi Gras has expanded to a three-day whirlwind of parties, brunches, dinners, and networking events, culminating in a formal ball under the auspices of the Mystick Krewe of Louisianians.

The agenda of the Port’s breakfast included economic development projects within the River Region, two focusing on Greenfield and Avondale, and infrastructure improvements, specifically the Westshore Levee Project and upgrades to Port infrastructure at Globalplex and the Executive Regional Airport. But the talking point most echoed during the breakfast was the dedicated alliance that the Louisiana Congressional delegation has in working with each other for the benefit of the state and its citizens. 

The Port of South Louisiana has a long history of enacting initiatives to benefit the region. “Since its creation in 1960,” said Micah Cormier, the Port’s director of communications, “the Port of South Louisiana has been the driver of economic development for the River Region.” 

Because of the Port’s focus on attracting foreign and domestic investment, thousands of jobs have been created along the Mississippi River. The Port of South Louisiana has a long and successful history of partnering with the parish governments, businesses, and civic organizations in order to create initiatives that both foster growth and create generational wealth for the families of St. Charles, St. James, and St. John Parish.

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