Originally run in the January 5, 2021 edition of the American Press
As we gladly say goodbye to 2020, there are numerous reasons for having a positive outlook about the new year. An Axios/Survey Monkey online poll finds that more than six in 10 Americans are hopeful about 2021. 76 percent were more hopeful than fearful about the pandemic in this year. 63 percent of respondents to the poll said they’re more hopeful than fearful about what 2021 holds in store for the world.
With the coronavirus vaccine becoming available, we can believe that by spring or summer there will be enough vaccinations given to bring this deadly pandemic under control. When that happens larger gatherings and events can begin to take place and our economy will rebound, especially the restaurant, travel and entertainment sectors.
In the meantime local health officials remind us that the best prevention against COVID is to wear a mask, conduct frequent handwashing and maintain social distancing. In our five-parish region we have lost nearly 500 persons to this deadly disease, many of whom were our family and friends. Many of us are in a stage of grief.
Another reason for optimism is evident everywhere as our region rebuilds from two powerful hurricanes. Many homes and businesses have been repaired. Thousands more are in the process or have not begun due to various issues with insurance settlements, lack of contractors, and lack of building materials and supplies. This recovery is going to take a long time. Tons of debris are everywhere.
McNeese State University and Sowela Technical Community College have major rebuilding projects underway. That’s a good sign that Southwest Louisiana is on the way back.
Our region has a strong industrial base that employs thousands of folks with good, high-paying jobs. This provides an economic base that many areas do not have and will be the basis for our financial recovery. LNG prices have rallied and this is giving encouragement to LNG developers this year. Southwest Louisiana still has four LNG projects permitted and ready to go as soon as the customers are lined up. One of the projects, Venture Global in Cameron Parish, is under construction and ahead of schedule.
With spot prices in Asia hitting a six-year high, LNG operators are seeing greater interest in long-term supply deals that would allow developers to build new export plants. That is a tremendous boost for our region.
This year we will see positive movement in the process for a new I-10 Bridge at Lake Charles. American Airlines has resumed service from Lake Charles Regional to DFW.
Passage by Congress of the COVID relief package and signature by the president will provide much-needed relief for individuals and businesses. While there are disagreements on the amounts, this will be extremely helpful. Individuals making less than $75,000 annually will get $600, or couples with incomes of less than $150,000 will get $1200, and up to $2400 if they have at least two children. This money will help with food and living expenses. Businesses will be eligible for another round of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) which will be administered through banks and credit unions. Details should be forthcoming soon. The Biden Administration is expected to push for another relief package.
Despite our nation’s political differences, and impacts of COVID-19 and hurricanes, there is still another reason for optimism. And that’s the Pioneer Spirit of Southwest Louisiana. By working together, and doing what we do best, we can not only survive, we will thrive in 2021.