By the BF Staff
From the January/February 2022 Issue
Can Louisiana fight back from the depths of the Covid-19 pandemic?
Perhaps more than most states, Louisiana was severely hit by the Covid pandemic, particularly in 2020 and through the first half of 2021. With little tourism activity happening during virtually all that time, key industries such as casinos and hotels/restaurants in major markets such as New Orleans and Baton Rouge took hits.
A deep dip in energy and oil prices during much of 2020 also caused a major hit to that industry, impacting the state’s gulf coast communities.
But as Covid hopefully recedes, energy prices skyrocket, and more people look to get out on the road again, leaders in the Pelican State are hopeful that 2022 will be a good year for Louisiana. More importantly, they know that the state must do all it can to ensure that any recovery is sustained during the next 12 months.
In Louisiana, there is a lot of activity going on in the economic development arena.
In January, Delta Regional Authority alternate federal co-chairwoman Leslie Durham joined Louisiana Workforce Commission Secretary Ava Cates, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, and additional Louisiana leaders to announce $1.9 million in investments awarded through the Delta Workforce Grant Program (DWP). Two New Orleans-based organizations were among 10 projects selected for funding.
“The Delta Workforce Grant Program makes targeted investments into programs throughout the Delta region that are solving skilled labor shortages by meeting local industry needs to get individuals back to work within our communities,” said Durham. “As a result of Delta Regional Authority’s $1.9 million investment, a projected 834 people will receive industry-based skills training and then placed into a high-demand job within their community.”
Shreveport Gets The Call
Advanced Call Center Technologies will invest $1.5 million to develop a new customer care center in Shreveport that will create 600 direct new jobs. Louisiana Economic Development (LED) estimates the project will result in 314 indirect jobs, for a total of more than 900 new jobs in Louisiana’s Northwest region.
Philadelphia-based Advanced Call Center Technologies (ACT) is moving into the East Ridge Plaza business center in Shreveport and will renovate the site with infrastructure upgrades, equipment installation and additional parking. Upgrades to the site are underway, with operations scheduled to commence in March 2022
“ACT’s addition of our new Shreveport customer care center is central to our 2022 and beyond growth plans,” said ACT President and CEO Hunter Croft. “Our new customer care center capacity has room for over 1,000 new teammates, including work from home or onsite positions. We’re ecstatic about the opportunity to be a part of the Shreveport community, and it comes at an exciting time in our business journey having just completed the transition to an employee-owned company. We know the addition of the local skilled, eager workforce along with our solid wages, great culture and personal growth opportunities is going to be a perfect fit.”
ACT provides multi-channel customer service support, fraud and dispute management, claim processing and other services to a variety of clients, including those in the financial industry.
“Advanced Call Center Technologies’ investment in Shreveport is a win for Louisiana’s Northwest region,” said Governor John Bel Edwards. “The more than 900 jobs resulting from the project will have a positive impact on economic activity in the region. We appreciate ACT’s commitment to the state and are proud of Louisiana’s highly skilled workforce, which helps foster the strong business climate that allows companies like ACT to hit the ground running.”
Expanding At Port Of Caddo-Bossier
Steel producer Ternium USA Inc. will expand its facility at the Port of Caddo-Bossier with an investment of $98 million. The project will create 35 new direct jobs, and LED estimates it will result in 98 indirect jobs, for a total of 133 new jobs in Louisiana’s Northwest Region.
“This new coil coating expansion in Shreveport is part of our strategy to support the joint growth of our company and that of our loyal customers by adding complementary volume, range, and services to our existing local platform,” said Michael Guhl, President of Ternium USA. “We are thankful to Governor Edwards and the LED team for their tireless work on behalf of the greater Shreveport community and their support for local manufacturing, and we look forward to continuing to invest in our people and production capabilities.”
Ternium is adding a second coil coating paint line with annual capacity of 120,000 tons, which will increase its production capacity in the U.S. by 53 percent, among other improvements. The coil coating process consists of cleaning, treating and painting flat sheet metal that is rolled into coils. The reinvestment in the Shreveport facility is the latest addition to Ternium’s goal of providing a full menu of state-of-the-art options for the metal building industry.
To secure the project at the Port of Caddo-Bossier, Louisiana offered Ternium an incentive package that includes the LED FastStart workforce development program. The company will also receive a $1 million performance-based award from the Economic Development Award Program to support infrastructure costs. The company is expected to utilize the state’s Quality Jobs and Industrial Tax Exemption programs as well.
“Ternium USA strengthens our community, and by adding these new and retained well-paying jobs, they are continuing to make a notable impact,” said Justyn Dixon, president and CEO of the North Louisiana Economic Partnership. “We are proud to have such a strong company solidify their commitment to the region through continued investment and job creation.