Union Parish has lots of great people. But it would be hard to argue that any have been more successful or had greater personal and economic impact on our area than Glenn Post, III, Chief Executive Officer and President of CenturyLink. That’s one reason it was so interesting to hear him speak at the Union Parish Economic Summit Tuesday morning. He could live anywhere, but he chooses to live at “home” in Farmerville. He is currently building a family home overlooking Lake D’Arbonne.
A bit of history, if you will. CenturyLink first came to Union Parish in the 1930’s when Oak Ridge Telephone Company, under the direction of Clarke Williams, purchased the old United Telephone Company in Marion. Growth was slow at first, but by 1976, when Post joined the company, there were nearly 1,000 employees; 30,000 customers and $50 million in revenue every year. Today, the company, headquartered in Monroe, still has some operations in Marion but has grown to 47,000 employees; millions of customers and $18 billion (yes, that’s a “b“) in annual revenue.
Post humbly pointed out that these figures were from talks he gives around the country and he didn’t want it to sound like bragging. It didn’t. CenturyLink’s success is well documented and the company’s presence in our area is bigger than a livewell full of six-pound crappie. They could go anywhere they want, but under Post’s guidance, they remain in our area.
So what does this have to do with an outdoor website?
That’s easy. This was an economic development summit and Post gave his take on what he thought our parish needs to do to continue to grow. His first two suggestions were somewhat usual — continue advances in education and look at incentives that could bring business to the parish. Item No. 3 was a suggestion to use a tool that only we have:
“Do a better job of marketing Lake D’Arbonne,” he said. “That’s a resource that we have that nobody else has.”
Obviously, that was my favorite suggestion. That’s what we try to do, in large part, here on lakedarbonnelife.com
He also said we need to make our cities and parish clean and attractive. One item that quickly comes to my mind here is doing something about the ugly trash dumpsters that greet visitors to our parish as they come from every direction. A handful of hunters also need some education on the science of what happens when an empty corn sack is placed in the back of a pickup truck that then travels down the highway at 60 MPH. In case you need the answer: It blows out and becomes litter on the side of our highways.
Post mentioned developing a culture of growth. He knows that in today’s world, if you aren’t moving forward, you are moving backwards. He also stressed continuing to cooperate with each other and crime control. Those are the kinds of things people look for when choosing a place to do business, live, or work, he said. And this isn’t just advice for community leaders and elected officials. This is a challenge for EVERYBODY. We do a good job, but we could do better.
One final thing. Besides being successful, there’s probably not anybody in the parish any more in demand or with a busier schedule than Glenn Post. It was great to see him take time from that schedule to offer good advice to the home folks. Hopefully we will all work to follow that advice.