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WTCNO CEO speaks at Federal Reserve Bank Forum

Jul 24, 2015

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NEW ORLEANS, LA, USA – During a recent meeting of more than 70 Louisiana industry executives, World Trade Center New Orleans CEO, Dominik Knoll, alongside Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Dennis Lockhart, as moderator, and David Batker, Chief Economist and Executive Director of Earth Economics gave remarks on the fundamental changes needed in order to sustain a viable Mississippi River System for the long term.

“Draining a watershed encompassing 31 states and two Canadian provinces, the Mississippi and its tributaries support more than a million U.S. jobs and account for roughly $200 billion in annual economic activity,” Dominik Knoll, chief executive officer of the World Trade Center New Orleans, said at the June 4 Public Affairs Forum held at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s New Orleans Branch. “If the river were a state, at $200 billion it would boast an economy similar to that of Connecticut”

Batker, a noted ecological economist, said the Mississippi is the heart of perhaps the earth's most economically valuable river system. "This basin absolutely dwarfs economically any other river basin in the world for agriculture, for energy, for shipping, for manufacturing," he said. "It's really remarkable."

Some fundamental approaches need to change, Batker observed. Policymakers should think of the river, the land around it, its ports, and other river infrastructure as a unified, holistic system, he said. That was not the case in the 20th century, Batker noted. Instead, agricultural practices and projects like levees were designed to address a single problem in a single location with little regard for downstream effects.

Knoll and Batker agreed that immense challenges face the river and, therefore, the millions who depend on it. At the same time, they both voiced optimism about maintaining the Mississippi as a healthy ecosystem and economic engine. Those two objectives, though at times seemingly contradictory, in fact are complementary, they said. Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President, Dennis Lockhart, thanked the two expert panelists for their efforts in this area.

For more information, please contact The World Trade Center New Orleans at (504) 529-1601 or email info@wtcno.org.

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