By the BF Staff
From the September/October 2016 Issue
Amidst all the flooding and property damage Louisiana has seen in the recent past is proof that the State is one of the most resilient. And just like before, Louisiana will assess and recover utilizing what’s already at its disposal and creating whatever else is necessary to make a comeback.
The Louisiana Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) helps Louisiana companies compete for government contracts at every level. With funding support from a variety of sources, including the U.S. Department of Defense and Louisiana Economic Development (LED), the program has helped Louisiana companies in 54 parishes win $45.5 billion in government work since 1989. Services are free and include proposal assistance, bid-matching services, marketing advice and seminars on topics such as networking and certifications.
While the PTAC has been fostering Louisiana’s growth for years, the buck didn’t stop there. The state continuously is looking for more opportunities to help people and businesses flourish. So when the powers that be recently recognized a new window in construction, they responded. Just this year two programs were created to capitalize on the small business construction work possibilities. The Louisiana Business Connection matches minority-owned small businesses in the state with major construction companies needing suppliers and vendors. And the Bonding Assistance Program creates a safety net for smaller construction firms to secure bonding for their contracts. Together, these programs have the potential to spur a bevy of extraordinary economic development projects.
The Louisiana Business Connection is an online database that shows bid opportunities from major engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) companies. Louisiana’s economic development agency harnessed local and federal partnerships to build an online platform that matches major contractors and small business vendors. Disadvantaged business enterprises, which have a controlling minority ownership interest of 51 percent or more, may use the database to create a profile listing their qualifications, certifications and other information in an effort to win bids. Upon registration, any gaps in required certifications will be identified and the businesses will be referred for appropriate training and business support programs.
The Bonding Assistance Program helps small businesses secure quality bid, payment and performance bonds needed to win construction contracts. Through a partnership with the Louisiana Public Facilities Authority and the Louisiana Surety Association, LED offers a bond guarantee of 25 percent of the contract or $100,000 (whichever is less). All firms certified through LED’s Small and Emerging Business Development Program may be eligible. The Bonding Assistance Program does not underwrite bonds but offers a source of collateral for the companies that do.
There are a number of other programs and incentives that help encourage business in Louisiana—industry to industry, both large and small. However, the state definitely puts a special focus on small business since more than half of its private-sector workforce is employed by small businesses. And 97 percent of Louisiana businesses are small businesses with fewer than 500 employees. Further, since these small businesses serve as the vendors and suppliers of large businesses, they help those companies thrive and position Louisiana to better compete for major projects.
One of the many examples of this small business assistance is Sasol in Lake Charles. Sasol looks to eight major Louisiana contractors to support the construction of its ethane cracker and six additional chemical plants, which represent one of the largest projects of its kind in the world. According to Kim Cusimano, Sasol’s senior public and government affairs specialist, the company has contracts with Louisiana vendors and material suppliers that total more than $2.5 billion.
By recognizing the role small businesses play in the economy, Louisiana’s economic development agencies are helping businesses statewide gain greater access to capital, develop managerial skills and overcome obstacles to growth. All combined, this is the way Louisiana always has and will get back on its financial feet after a pitfall; it’s the way small business support leads to a Bayou State comeback.
RUSTON CONTINUES TO EXPAND
Ruston is centrally located in northern Louisiana. As the Parish Seat of Lincoln Parish (County), Ruston is large enough to offer many wonderful amenities and small enough to maintain a unique small-town charm. As the home of Louisiana Tech University, Ruston has an exciting energy, offers a vibrant entrepreneurial spirit and maintains a pro-business attitude.
Being the home of Louisiana Tech University, a Tier One National University, Ruston has the ability to develop, attract and retain intellectual capital. Economic and community development relies on institutions and organizations like Louisiana Tech and its industry partners, who encourage and actively support an entrepreneurial spirit and who recognize the value of the opportunities that these relationships create.
In addition to Louisiana Tech, Ruston has many advantages for new and expanding businesses. Ruston lies at the intersection of Interstate 20 and Highway 167, providing easy access to a number of national markets. The City has a KCS rail line and a regional airport to provide additional means of transportation for the community, which has the infrastructure in place to support further growth and development. The City of Ruston installed a 30-mile fiber network around the City, providing 10 Gbps for local businesses. Lincoln Parish is home to a diverse economic base of both domestic and internationally based companies, including advanced manufacturing, technology/support services, healthcare and financial services.
While its people are one of the area’s best assets, there is a quality of life in Lincoln Parish that is second to none. Whether you are interested in mountain biking trails, an 18-hole professional golf course, arts and entertainment, hunting and fishing, collegiate sports, museums or festivals, Lincoln Parish has something for everyone. Ruston is also home to some of the best K-12 schools in the region.
Ruston recently celebrated the grand opening of Monster Moto, a company that selected Ruston for their United States manufacturing operation, which was moved from China. Monster Moto executives selected Ruston because of the many assets it has to offer, including a partnership with Louisiana Tech University, a qualified workforce, essential infrastructure and an eagerness to make things happen.
Earlier this year, the citizens of Ruston overwhelmingly voted in support of a three-quarter (3/4) cent sales tax to fund the Moving Ruston Forward initiative. Moving Ruston Forward will fund 21 water, sewer and street projects. This initiative also will construct a new animal control facility, new bike trails and sidewalks and a new regional sports complex.
Ruston’s economy continues to perform extremely well. Three new hotels are currently being constructed. Ruston has seen the growth and expansion of local small business, as well as major national retailers. Louisiana Tech is in the process of completing the expansion of their College of Business Building, initiating construction of new student housing and football stadium press box, and finalizing plans for their new College of Engineering Building.
The Ruston community is well positioned to take things to the next level. Ruston has great location, education, industry and opportunity. Given all of its assets, Ruston is the ideal place to start, expand or grow your business. Ruston Mayor Ronny Walker ensures you will find a business friendly atmosphere, infrastructure to support your business, easy access to neighboring markets, access to a top tier university and a great quality of life. Ruston hopes you will be an addition to its list of entities that proudly proclaim “Excellence Made Here”. Come see what Ruston can do for you.
ACADIANA: OPPORTUNITIES ABOUND IN SOUTH LOUISIANA
Acadiana, a collection of nine parishes (counties), is located in south central Louisiana along the Gulf of Mexico. Its hub city, Lafayette, lies at the intersection of Interstates 10 and 49, connecting the region to national markets via road and rail, and international markets via air and an extensive port system. Acadiana is a place with an economic landscape as rich as its cultural roots.
The combination of a growing technology sector and a historically resourceful, diligent workforce, supported by a strong post-secondary education system, has attracted a diverse group of industry leaders such as Bell Helicopter and CGI to the Acadiana region. A skilled workforce compliments its growth-friendly business climate—including right-to-work status, low operating costs and a quality of life and sense of community unmatched outside of Louisiana’s culturally vibrant Acadiana parishes.
Leveraging the region’s diverse portfolio of assets is One Acadiana (1A), a regional economic development organization, whose mission is fostering the creation and retention of businesses in the region. Beyond traditional market research and site selection services, One Acadiana exists to help businesses of all sizes and industries navigate through Louisiana’s generous business and tax incentive programs, while aligning state and local resources to provide custom incentives packages. Through One Acadiana, businesses looking to expand or relocate gain unparalleled access to business leadership in the community, as well as aid in the recruitment of a quality workforce through 1A’s talent attraction and retention program.
A Record of Success
The Acadiana region has long been home to a number of companies with significant global impact and international recognition.
Decades before Bell’s 2015 decision to invest $26.3 million in its latest North American helicopter manufacturing facility in Acadiana, PHI (Petroleum Helicopters International, Inc.) opened its doors in Lafayette as a small helicopter transportation company. Since inception in 1949, the global leader has flown over 12 million rotary wing flight hours, more than any private entity worldwide. Thriving in Acadiana’s business-friendly climate, PHI now maintains operations in 43 countries providing transportation, air medical and technical services to the offshore oil and gas industry across the globe.
Founded over 40 years ago, Stuller, Inc., one of the largest jewelry setting manufacturers in the world, employs approximately 1,400 skilled workers in its administrative and manufacturing headquarters in Lafayette and provides next-day delivery of more than 200,000 different items to jewelry professionals worldwide. Due in large part to Stuller’s business model, both FedEx and UPS have significant cargo operations at Lafayette Regional Airport providing top-notch logistics capabilities to Acadiana’s industry leaders.
Traveling north towards St. Landry parish, the steel framing of a 235,000-square-foot FedEx distribution center rises from a 40-acre plot of land along Interstate 10. FedEx’s April 2016 decision to locate in Acadiana follows in the footsteps of a Walmart distribution center established nearby in 1999. Acadiana’s transportation and logistics network, coupled with some of the lowest electricity and natural gas rates in the U.S., presents an obvious explanation for its ongoing success in distribution.
A short drive south, in Iberia Parish, Avery Island, one of five “islands” rising in atypical and almost mystical fashion above Louisiana’s flat coastal marshes, has housed McIlhenny’s TABASCO brand Original Red Sauce production facility for 140 years. Today, the internationally popular sauce is labeled in 22 languages and dialects and sold in over 180 countries. This strong food processing tradition started over a century ago and continues today with companies like Bayou Rum, Swamp Pop and Bayou Teche Brewing introducing innovative products with a local flair to regional markets.
Offering customized incentive packages and aligning its post-secondary educational programs with industry, Acadiana has created a choice location for growth. A recent tech boom—sparked by public and private investments—gives a glimpse into the bright future of this region. CGI—the fifth largest independent information technology and business process services firm in the world—now occupies a new $13.1 million, 50,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility designed to bring world-class IT consulting capabilities to its clients. This location is CGI’s fifth Onshore Center of Excellence that is well on its way to creating 400 new, high-quality IT jobs in the region and serves as the anchor tenant of the 143-acre Research Park of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
A deciding factor for companies like CGI, Perficient, Global Data Systems and Enquero, was Louisiana’s Digital Interactive Media and Software Development Incentive. The strongest of its kind in the nation, this incentive provides a 25.2 percent tax credit on qualified payroll for in-state labor and 18 percent for qualified production expenses. In order to meet and exceed the workforce demands of these software companies, UL Lafayette committed to a 10-year, $4.5 million higher education initiative that will triple the number of degrees awarded annually by its College of Computing and Informatics.
When you combine the industrial manufacturing expertise of the Acadiana population with a burgeoning tech sector, you create an environment for the success of a company like Noble Plastics. The product realization company has seen annual growth in the range of 30 to 40 percent since opening its doors in 2000. Taking advantage of a talented pool of local engineers and Louisiana’s Research and Development Tax Credit program, Noble Plastics has developed expertise in robotics, automation systems and custom manufacturing cells to meet the demands of the future in the energy, veterinary, defense, consumer, sporting goods and automotive industries. Founders Missy and Scott Rogers are highly innovative entrepreneurs who’ve found great success in getting out in front of technology and aligning themselves with suppliers who are as passionate about pushing the envelope of innovation as they are.
“Noble Plastics spent nearly $5 million in the last years on research and development. The R&D credit allowed us to take risks in new markets and technologies, creating more business in Louisiana, primarily in the defense industry…” said Missy Rogers, President and CEO of Noble Plastics.
Find your place in Acadiana, where you will discover world-class health care, top-notch higher education options and all the entertainment options of a big city with far less stress. A mix of historical and cultural influences has created the Cajun/Creole food, music and language found only in this small part of the United States. Acadiana is ready, willing and able to help your business succeed. Contact Leigh Billeaud at (337) 408-3672 or [email protected] to learn more about what South Louisiana can offer your business.
ST. TAMMANY PARISH: OFFERING A WORLD OF DIVERSE CHOICES
St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, is located strategically on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain with easy access to New Orleans and other major population centers across the gulf-south. As part of the Greater New Orleans region, St. Tammany recently ranked no. 4 in KPMG’s list of metro-areas in the southeastern United States with the lowest business costs.
St. Tammany’s low business cost, nationally recognized school system and first-rate medical facilities make the community a destination of choice for businesses of every size. Three interstate systems—10, 12 and 59—pass through St. Tammany, along with a convenient network of U.S. and Louisiana highways and Norfolk Southern Railway.
As the fifth most populous parish in the state and one of the fastest-growing parishes, St. Tammany’s upscale amenities, active community and expansive green spaces offer wide-ranging, diverse opportunities for companies in any industry. The entire parish is renowned by outdoor enthusiasts, gourmands, golfers and art-lovers for its versatility and charm.
Positioned between two NASA facilities and a favored home for international corporate headquarters, St. Tammany offers the best-situated location for businesses to thrive. Whether booking an early morning flight out of Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport or shipping out of the Port of New Orleans into the Mississippi River, valuable gateways to the world are less than an hour away.
For companies considering relocation or expansion into Louisiana, Certified Sites are a powerful time-saver and a selling point for St. Tammany Parish.
Louisiana Economic Development—the statewide economic development organization—designates available sites as development-ready or “shovel-ready” after a strenuous pre-qualification process, ensuring Louisiana’s Certified Sites are primed for a speedy groundbreaking. Developers value Certified Sites for their considerable documentation and extensive pre-screening, which streamlines the process of land development.
With more than 700 acres of Certified Sites and over a dozen campus-style business parks, St. Tammany Parish offers wide-ranging, diverse opportunities for growing businesses.
Each site offers quick access to major infrastructure hubs, connecting businesses to the Greater New Orleans region, the gulf-south and beyond, while offering some of the lowest business costs available. National companies such as FedEx, Folgers Coffee Company, Associated Wholesale Grocers, Rooms To Go and Blue Bell Creameries built regional distribution facilities in St. Tammany largely to capitalize on its excellent transportation channels. The ever-increasing millions of square-footage dedicated to distribution in St. Tammany signal the parish’s ideal positioning for ambitious projects.
The St. Tammany Economic Development Foundation (STEDF) works diligently with local land developers to certify their sites, promoting maximum exposure to the largest clientele of businesses nationwide.
St. Tammany’s nationally recognized K-12 education system and world-renowned professional and technical schools produce dedicated new workers every year. Students’ ACT scores consistently rank above the national average. With a population of approximately 250,000 and a civilian labor force of over 115,000, St. Tammany offers a highly skilled, highly trained workforce for businesses in any industry.
According to one STEDF report, STEM employment rose more than 15 percent in 10 years, from almost 75,000 in 2005 to almost 86,000 in 2015. In that same time period, the number of business establishments rose 25 percent—from over 6,000 businesses to almost 8,000—and the number of employed residents in St. Tammany increased by over 20,000.
Thanks to STEDF’s efforts promoting St. Tammany as a business destination in 2015, 14 companies committed to locate or grow their operations within the parish. These companies agreed to invest $52.6 million into St. Tammany, retaining 2,896 jobs and committing to create 588 new jobs.
MECO, a worldwide leader in water purification equipment and technology, opened its new headquarters and manufacturing facility in 2014—investing $11 million and 127 new jobs into St. Tammany. This year, MECO is expanding, adding 20,000 square feet to the existing facility in Mandeville. This expansion invested an additional $3 million and retained 145 jobs in St. Tammany.
St. Tammany also is a favored home for many national and international corporate headquarters, such as POOLCORP, Hornbeck Offshore Services, Nestlé Health Science-Pamlab, Netchex, Rain CII and more.
More information about St. Tammany can be found online.