SnapShots: 60 Seconds With Don Pierson, Secretary, Louisiana Economic Development

Louisiana Economic Development
Don Pierson, Secretary, Louisiana Economic Development

By The BF Staff
From the January/February 2016 Issue

BF: Baton Rouge is a growing high-tech hub, most recently with the arrival of software player BlueLine Associates. What is attracting tech companies to the Capital Region?

DP: In Baton Rouge, we have top-tier talent, tremendous resources with multiple higher education campuses, and a rapidly rising entrepreneurial climate. BlueLine, for instance, will operate at the Louisiana Technology Park, which houses the only Tier IV data center between Houston and Atlanta. Our customized technology curricula at LSU, Southern University and Baton Rouge Community College attracted EA, IBM and other leading tech companies.

BF: Is the state infrastructure ready for large-scale export of LNG?

DP: Yes, the LNG epicenter is in Southwest Louisiana, where Cheniere Energy will begin multiyear exports to Europe and other markets this spring. The Cameron LNG expansion, like Cheniere, is a multibillion-dollar investment leveraging our unique mix of natural gas pipeline and deep water port logistics. Many other LNG projects are in the works.

BF: Will the Dow-DuPont merger help grow Louisiana’s plastics sector?

DP: Yes, and it’s an industry that’s already highly developed in Louisiana, with many downstream players. We’re excited about what the future holds for chemical manufacturing. In recent months, we’ve seen major ethylene projects take shape with domestic and foreign investment: Dow, Formosa, Sasol, Shintech, Westlake Chemical, to name several that make up a combined $20 billion in new capital investment for our state.

BF: Louisiana has made great progress improving its business climate in recent years. How do you plan to keep the momentum going?

DP: We lead the U.S. in foreign direct investment per capita, we’ve got the best customized workforce program in the nation, we’re one of the fastest emerging technology clusters, and we have great legacy industries that are benefitting from an historic opportunity with abundant natural gas.

BF: Louisiana’s digital media sector continues to grow at a robust pace. How important is the state’s award-winning FastStart workforce training program to this success?

DP: LED FastStart® is a key differentiator for us. FastStart has played a major role in creating our quality of life and Louisiana Job Connection portals. For employers like IBM, EA, Gameloft, GE, CenturyLink and others, FastStart creates customized recruitment, screening and training programs to attract top-tier technology talent.

BF: What are LED’s top priorities?

DP: John Bel Edwards, our new governor, wants us to redouble our efforts to improve opportunities for small businesses, with tour stops, stakeholder meetings and targeted resources. We’ll strengthen initiatives to help existing employers grow through our LED Business Expansion & Retention Group while stepping up efforts to site emerging business opportunities in Louisiana from key investors in the Americas and across the globe.


The NFL has unveiled the new $2.6-billion home of the Los Angeles Rams (currently known as the St. Louis Rams). The Rams’ futuristic 80,000-seat stadium — resembling an architectural combination of a grilled-cheese sandwich and the mother ship in the space epic Alien — is set to anchor a new 300-acre entertainment district in L.A. that the owners have proudly dubbed “NFL Disney World.” The development in the L.A. suburb of Inglewood will build the world’s most expensive sports arena as the “cornerstone” of a sports, music and entertainment district that will be open for business year-round.

The new complex will include a 6,000-seat performance venue, more than 1.5-million square feet of retail and office space, 2,500 homes (no word on whether tailgating on the driveways will be permitted), a 300-room hotel and 25 acres of parks. The seating capacity of the stadium will expand to more than 100,000 for special events. The 3.1-million-square-foot, $1,9-billion multipurpose stadium will feature a 19-acre transparent plastic canopy that will be draped over the stadium and parts of the surrounding area. The canopy will be made of the same polymers used to build canopies over the Allianz Arena in Munich and the Beijing National Aquatic Center, and can change colors to reflect whichever “home team” among several teams that may share the facility happens to be playing that day.