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ThinkAlex--Great Success Redefining Our City

A Smart Alexandria

by Jacques Roy
November 5, 2014

Together, our team has been busy for building a stronger Alexandria.  From our SPARC program investing millions of dollars in the city’s infrastructure, creating new jobs, and improving our quality of life, to our SafeAlex effort and top-notch community policing reducing drugs and crime and making neighborhoods safer.  Together, we’ve accomplished a lot and we’re not done yet.  There is more to do; there are new initiatives to launch; and there are people not yet engaged who are waiting for opportunity. 

We hope you will continue to support efforts to make Central Louisiana a better place to live, work, and play. Our whole parish depends upon Alexandria and Alexandria’s success in turn is driven by the successes of the Parish and region at large. 

I operate under the assumption local businesses and entrepreneurs possess answers to problems, and therefore our citizens should be used in the solution-making processes of local government. As part of a larger umbrella called ThinkAlex, our SmartAlex component is a concept for business development launched, hosted, and incubated in the business community. Alexandria businesses will be better equipped to drive proper policy than government. Government’s role is best limited to infrastructure development and very targeted programming help in special circumstances. Defining those parameters is the task of SmartAlex.

For our region to be truly competitive in the 21st century, first and foremost, we must continue to improve and modernize our infrastructure: roads, sidewalks, lighting, drainage systems, broadband roll-out, fire stations, parks and recreation, and housing, among others. 

Infrastructure reinvestment really is, more now than ever, “king.” I subscribe to a municipal philosophy holding that targeted, evidence-based funding of our ailing American infrastructure allows the private sector to do what it does best: create sustainable, meaningful employment and betterment of the quality of Louisiana—and, indeed, American—life. Infrastructure—both physical and human—is the key to success for nations, states, and smaller units of government. It is the platform upon which successful, capacity-adding private growth and industry occurs.

I believe we need to re-focus on local businesses and community partnerships. The big hunt expeditions are great, welcome, and we need them. But, we must focus on what is already here to drive the economy—especially in challenging economic times. Growing our own creates much greater “sustainability.” 

What kind of region is ours to be and in what kind of America? We better be one returning to investment in our infrastructure, and we must learn to invest in big-ticket infrastructure investment on a regional level. In four or five years of very heavy engagement in our community, one lists toward an inescapable conclusion—ours is a story of dichotomies: of great possibility and of great threat or lost opportunity.

And yet as with most of life, a dichotomy exists, a paradox: while none of us can be an island, no one and no community, self reliance is the order of this new day—if not of all time—because our world is vigorously competitive and quickly innovative. But, the astute student knows the partnerships forged by the self-able create the alliances that achieve and last. Our central Louisiana parishes need to make that alliance a reality.

Alexandria has an obligation as the largest tax base in the area to reach beyond the municipal limits and give a hand up, promote, and participate regionally. Our self-reliance is a part of this region. The importance of community leadership together resolving problems and supporting each other with regional solutions cannot be overstated. And yet for Alexandria to succeed it must lead; it must innovate; and it must consider its unique needs as well. 

www.thinkalex.org