NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) --Each year we send $500 million to China to manufacture the throws and products that enable us to put on the greatest free show: Mardi Gras. One New Orleans group begs the question, "what if we fed the goose that laid the golden egg?"
New Orleanians create an intriguing culture that attracts tourists from around the world while our own artists, musicians, and lower/middle class continue to struggle.
"Estimates show that the bead manufacturing industry is about $500,000,000 world wide," said Jade Brown Russell, a member of the Welcome Table New Orleans, a group of business and civic leaders who are suggesting we could create the capacity to manufacture Mardi Gras beads in New Orleans and keep that money right here.
The Welcome Table is a collaborative project between Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration and the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation. It aims to address issues of race and social injustice, bringing a group of people together who might not have much in common.
However in New Orleans, there is a common denominator everyone loves carnival no matter what your race or class may be.
"Even if you're talking tens of millions of dollars on throws, that's a lot of money that could be spent here creating jobs, and wealth in our community as opposed to somewhere else," remarked Welcome Table team member, Kurt Weigle. "We continue to lag behind most of the country in having enough middle, income jobs and so this is a way for us to create companies that bring everyone together and at the same time create good jobs for folks."
They're titling this idea Threaux Inc. and it ultimately falls in the hands of carnival krewe captains.
The Welcome Table suggests that in order for this to be possible, Mardi Gras krewes need to come together with local business owners to create companies that can produce carnival locally, and band together in an effort to not buy from China.
"This is something that is not going to be forced on anyone this is something that has to happen because folks want to do what's right for their city. They want to make some money while doing it, and they want to create jobs and create wealth and tax base for their city," said Weigle.
The Welcome Table team says it's not just about the beads; it's about the quality of throws. Hundreds of thousands of throws are tossed in the garbage because they are literally just trash.
Russell and Weigle question the integrity of our culture and ask what if we made the throws better quality, as something to actually be treasured.
Threaux Inc. could solve issues of poverty for our civilians, and of creating a greener city, all in one, by bringing home Mardi Gras manufacturing to its creators.
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