Efforts to diversify the local economy – shifting its overwhelming focus from oil and gas to other, varied industries – have proven largely futile.
But there is every reason to continue this worthwhile, long-term goal that would remove some local workers’ dependency on a mostly robust but cyclical industry.
The oil and gas slowdown that has cost so many thousands of local workers their jobs is yet another reminder that no matter how lucrative oil and gas can be, depending too much on any one sector of the economy holds certain risks.
So it’s good to see the push for diversification continuing.
“Take a sector with an existing strength and within that identify a specialty. If you invest heavily into technology, you end up with a new specialty within that industry,” Terrebonne Economic Development Authority CEO Matt Rookard said. “Then you can look at applying that to other industries.”
He used as an example an attempt to use the Houma-Terrebonne Airport as a hub for unmanned aircraft, which could eventually expand into use in coastal restoration or storm damage assessment.
“These things don’t exist as we sit here today, but if you can deploy that technology, there’s opportunity to create them,” Rookard said.
Although it’s a good example, it is but one way TEDA and others are trying to open up the local economy to new companies and ventures that might eventually produce the kind of diversity other areas enjoy.
While the oil and gas industry has been a valuable local partner for workers and businesses, having all the region’s eggs in one industrial basket makes us more vulnerable to the fluctuations in that market.
The more our area can cultivate other industries, the better we can insulate ourselves against the slowdowns that are inevitable in every portion of the economy.
We have proven time and again that our workers and our local companies are incredibly useful to the oilfield industry. These same workers and others would contribute mightily to any industry in which they have training and education and in which there are employment opportunities available.
We don’t lose anything by trying to grow more and different opportunities for our workers and the many others who rely on the local economy. But failing to do so would be a terrible lack of planning and preparation.
Editorials represent the opinion of the newspaper, not of any individual.