N.O. Chamber Joins I-10 Gulf Coast Coalition to Advocate for Louisiana

The New Orleans Chamber of Commerce’s top priority is to foster opportunity and growth for local businesses. Building alliances with like-minded organizations is a big part of our advocacy work. Sometimes this important work can run the gamut of issues.

In May, I had the privilege of joining the newly formed I-10 Gulf Coast Chamber Coalition on a trip to Washington, D.C., where we met with members of the U.S. House and Senate on critical matters affecting our region. The topics included disaster response and recovery, skyrocketing flood insurance rates, coastal protection, fisheries and public safety.

Sandra Lindquist Headshot
Sandra Lombana Lindquist

Our coalition members included the leaders of five chambers along the I-10 corridor, including the Mobile Chamber in Alabama, the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, the New Orleans Chamber and the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance in Lake Charles

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The leaders of these organizations met for months to plan our visit and consider issues to discuss during a packed agenda with federal legislators, including U.S. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-Jefferson), Rep. Troy Carter (D-New Orleans), Rep. Clay Higgins (R-Lafayette), Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-Baton Rouge) and other influential members of Congress from Alabama and Mississippi.

The preparation led to a productive meeting with our representatives in the Nation’s Capital.

The most important topic we addressed was disaster assistance. There are urgent gaps in FEMA that Congress should address immediately. These include problems with housing timelines and long-term HUD funding, resulting in displaced homeowners being forced out of temporary housing too soon. The FEMA public assistance programs also face significant delays, hampering community recovery. Congress has the power to fix these issues.

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Many homeowners, meanwhile, are burdened by skyrocketing insurance rates, and we joined previous advocates in urging meaningful policy changes. We expressed our growing concern about premium rate setting under new risk ratings and called for bipartisan cooperation to find short and long-term solutions.

Coastal protection issues were another topic of conversation. Our coastal communities are a vital piece of the economy, and we need long-term dedicated revenue streams for coastal infrastructure and resiliency. We emphasized the importance of several bills, including the RISEE Act and the BREEZE Act.

We also discussed our concerns related to the regulation of the region’s fisheries. While there has been progress in increasing catch limits for the snapper population, we urged a similar effort to study two other species: amberjack and cobia. Existing restrictions have disproportionately impacted the charter boat industry and recreational fishing.

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Finally, in regard to public safety, we asked that federal agencies take a more visible role in dismantling violent gangs and groups. We called for the establishment of multi-agency task forces.

Overall, it was a productive visit to Washington, D.C. Please contact the New Orleans Chamber if you are interested in learning more.

Sandra Lombana Lindquist is the president and CEO of the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce.

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