Larry W. Frevert

A win-win and win again

Larry W. Frevert, P.E.
APWA President

Ladies and gentlemen, we are going to New Orleans. And we are going in style.

In late 2005, as the true devastation of Hurricane Katrina became apparent, the APWA Board of Directors was forced to make a painful decision. We moved our 2006 annual conference away from New Orleans as that city and the surrounding region struggled to recover and rebuild. In doing so, we made a single promise, as best stated by our president at the time, Bob Freudenthal, who said, "We will go back to New Orleans!"

Now it's time. Time to bring the APWA community together in all its force. Time to renew relationships. Time to share best practices and sharpen minds. But most of all, time to go back and experience the renewal of New Orleans.

As I've visited chapters across North America during my presidency, I have frequently been asked about New Orleans. How are they recovering? What can we do to help them? Will they be ready?

I was there in January for a chapter meeting and to install their new chapter officers. I had a chance to tour the St. Bernard Parish community and the Lower Ninth Ward. Progress is being made. They've accomplished much since I was there last February. There is still a lot to do; St. Bernard Parish can really use our help. The chapter is working hard with support from many APWA colleague volunteers across North America helping them to be ready for us. The convention center has been restored, the hotels are great, the unique Cajun cuisine and seafood are fantastic, the people of New Orleans are grateful for the help received and their spirit is restored. Our APWA staff has scheduled some outstanding General Session speakers and educational events again this year. All we need is you! You may never for the rest of your career have an opportunity to help a chapter, help a city, help a community like you can by attending this year's Congress.

Because of the profession we have chosen, no other group of people has a better understanding of the importance to reinvest in a community than we do. Whether it's the reinvestment of capital to restore a community's economy or reinvestment in its infrastructure to make the community whole, public works people understand. The New Orleans community needs our help. Candidly speaking, you need to personally experience the New Orleans community's spirit to better prepare you for a disaster your own community may someday face.

This is your invitation to join us for the APWA International Public Works Congress & Exposition August 17-20, 2008 at the New Orleans Convention Center. Every year this event brings our best and brightest together, cooperating to meet the urgent and evolving needs of our communities. Last year's Congress drew more than 500 exhibitors, 2,300 full registrants and 6,200 total attendees from across the global public works community. And with more than 150 educational sessions and technical workshops, everyone who attended went home measurably richer for the experience.

Our annual conference is a critical event in driving mutual progress across the public works arena. In our industry, nothing compares to it in size, scope or value gained. Through educational sessions and networking with your peers, you will discover better approaches to the public works challenges we face together. Through exposure to new products and new service providers, you will strengthen your arsenal of tools and partners to do the right things better, faster and with added value. And simply through your participation, you will contribute directly to the ongoing revitalization of New Orleans and the surrounding Gulf Coast communities.

And this Congress is like none before it. No city in the United States faces the unprecedented public works challenges of New Orleans, where every form of critical infrastructure was compromised by Katrina and its aftermath. Week after week, month after month, the community has continued to work to rebuild itself. In New Orleans as never before the APWA community will turn our words into action, and our promises into reality. We'll do it through the money we spend for food, travel, lodging and entertainment. We'll do it through the national attention that follows this event wherever it goes. And many of us will do it working hand in hand with local relief agencies to help rebuild homes across St. Bernard Parish, one of the region's hardest hit areas.

Finding true win-win opportunities makes for some of the smartest and easiest decisions in any business. APWA is willing to go you one better. This year's conference is a win-win and win again. There is no better place to be if you want to foster innovation in your organization and improve the service you deliver to your communities. There is no better place to be if you want to drive your own growth and personal progress as a public works professional. And there is certainly no better place to be if you want to show solidarity with our APWA colleagues and friends in New Orleans as they face and conquer their own public works challenges.

The APWA Congress & Exposition is a truly world-class event, with participation from our partners across North America and literally from around the world. We know your workloads are high and your budgets are tight. But that's precisely why this event is so important to your organizations. We are all being called upon to do more with less every day, and that requires innovation, new technologies and above all, best practices...the heart and soul of our annual show.

So join us in New Orleans. Join us for the great local cuisine and for the fascinating history around every corner. Mixing business with pleasure has never been so easy as it is in the Big Easy. Through cutting-edge educational sessions and onsite workshops you will learn the latest advances in your field. Through the social events and the networking with friends old and new, you will certainly have fun. And above all, you will all return to your communities refreshed and energized by the enthusiasm, determination and spirit of the outstanding people of the Gulf region.

We have a promise to keep! We are going back to New Orleans! Please join me there this August for the Best Show in Public Works, the 2008 APWA International Public Works Congress & Exposition.

Thanks for all you do for APWA and for your service daily to the public works profession.