Louisiana to Site Seekers: What Recession?

Louisiana’s economy and job creation have been outpacing the nation throughout the past two years. Come see how this Southern state can boost your business.

Louisiana is bucking the national recession by having an economy that currently is outperforming both the South and the nation. Unemployment rates in 2009, according to Louisiana Economic Development (LED) officials, was down about one percent since January 2008, bringing it to 6.7 percent as compared to the national average of 10 percent. The year 2009 saw expansions and relocations that resulted in more than 21,000 new jobs, $2.5 billion in new capital investment and $53 million per year in new state tax revenues.

“Our aggressive focus on preserving our existing jobs and attracting new jobs is resulting in increases in our national rankings, improvements in our business climate, population in-migration and most importantly more good job opportunities for our people,” Gov. Bobby Jindal says.

In fact, Louisiana tied for third among all U.S. states in Gallup’s Job Creation Index for 2009. According to Moody’s Economy Adversity Index, New Orleans, Lafayette and Lake Charles have emerged from the recession.

“There is no longer a placeholder for Louisiana at the bottom of the major economic and business climate rankings,” says Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret. “The positive national recognition Louisiana has received since 2008 is a strong indicator that our economy has performed better than the South and U.S. during the recession. This consistent recognition also demonstrates that we are taking the right steps to grow our economy, create better job opportunities and position our state for long-term economic growth.”

But the governor and the state’s economic development officials aren’t resting on their laurels, in fact, in April, Gov. Jindal laid out the Louisiana Way Forward.

“The Louisiana Way Forward means that during these tough economic times, we’re pursuing reforms and efficiencies that make government do more with less. Families and business across Louisiana are tightening their belts and we’re doing the same for state government,” says Gov. Jindal. “The Louisiana Way Forward will create a more accountable state government so that even when our revenues grow back, we will not simply restore funding to the status quo, but instead, we’ll make investments that produce results.”

The Way Forward includes further developing LED’s recently launched priority initiatives, including:

• The Louisiana FastStart program—building on the expertise of national-caliber corporate training experts recruited from around the country, Louisiana FastStart is a first-class workforce solutions provider executing more than a dozen pilot projects—more than 11,000 hours of training already have been delivered to more than 1,000 trainees around Louisiana—and will shift into full operations in 2010.

• BERG—Launched in 2009, the Business Expansion and Retention Group, partnered with local and regional economic development allies to visit nearly 500 companies, and secured a variety of significant retention and expansion wins, including the relocation of pump and compressor manufacturer Gardner Denver from Wisconsin to Louisiana.

• The Louisiana Development-Ready Communities Program—enabling 12 communities (Arcadia; Crowley; DeRidder; Houma; Jena; Mansfield with Grand Cane, Logansport and Stonewall; New Iberia; Pineville; Slidell; Vivian; West Monroe; and Zachary) to complete an intensive six-month process to position themselves to more effectively compete with out-of-state communities for good jobs and business investment.

Also emphasized is a signature 2010 initiative, The Blue Ocean target industry initiative. The Blue Ocean is a strategy project designed to identify the state’s best narrowly defined growth industries of the future, including:

• Digital media/software development (including selected segments within healthcare IT, education IT, video-game development and eReaders)
• Next-generation automotive manufacturing (e.g. electric vehicles, composites manufacturing)
• Specialty healthcare (medical corridors, obesity/diabetes research and treatment, pharmaceutical manufacturing)
• Renewables and energy efficiency (green building/manufacturing, hydropower, algae-based energy production, nuclear power module manufacturing)
• Water management (developing world-class water management industry e.g. becoming the Netherlands of the U.S.)
• Next wave oil and gas (ultra deep water oil, unconventional natural gas, enhanced oil recovery)

North Louisiana: A Story of Reinvention

Even before the Louisiana Purchase, North Louisiana’s strategic location and assets have been integral to the region’s success. Historically, the region has been a prominent launching point for expansion-minded settlers heading west; a vibrant agricultural powerhouse where commodities were sent via the Red and Ouachita Rivers to deep water ports; and one of the more storied oil and gas regions of the 20th Century.

Today, North Louisiana’s 14-parish (county) region of nearly 800,000 residents boasts one of the most vibrant, diverse, and balanced economies of its size. Still the region continues to reinvent itself. North Louisiana supports a large and sophisticated health care sector, a competitive manufacturing base, a reenergized oil and gas sector, a sizeable and diverse service sector and supplier network, a transforming timber/paper industry, a hospitality/gaming industry, and so much more.

Beyond its more traditional sectors, North Louisiana also nurtures emerging sectors, including information technology, nanotechnology, biotech/life sciences, and creative industries such as film, music and entertainment. The region has become one of the hottest places to make movies in the nation and an incubator for digital and high-tech industries with available state incentives, tax credits, workforce solutions and other programs to grow companies.

CenturyLink, which ranks in the 2010 Fortune 500 list of America’s largest companies, started and expanded in North Louisiana. The Monroe-based business is a leading national telecommunications company, which recently merged with Embarq, a telecom business based in Kansas. The merger brought 350 new jobs to North Louisiana.

“Louisiana is and has been taking significant steps to make the state attractive for businesses with government that is serious about ethics reform and focused on eliminating tax barriers. In Monroe, where CenturyLink is headquartered, we have a loyal, educated employee base, outstanding universities and technical colleges and top rated healthcare facilities. Monroe also offers convenient proximity to the I-20 corridor, an airport with access to major U.S. hub cities, and a variety of outdoor, arts and entertainment options that contribute to the overall quality of life for our people. Louisiana provides great opportunities for business leaders looking for an attractive environment in which to build and grow their companies. We’ve found everything we need right here,” said Glen Post, president and CEO of CenturyLink.

The North Louisiana region offers 12 universities and colleges, four ports with access to deep water, 19 airports, and a civilian labor force of 341,281 workers. These assets are strategically located along Interstate 20 and Interstate 49, creating an innovation corridor that has attracted international companies like Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, a leading pharmaceutical company headquartered in India.

“In 2008, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories decided to acquire a manufacturing facility in North Louisiana, because there existed a ready facility and a well-trained labor force that understood pharmaceutical manufacturing. In 2009, we decided to expand our operations in North Louisiana, because the talent and capabilities at the site demonstrated the potential to support additional product lines. Also, Louisiana’s incentive package and the cost competitiveness of the region made it very attractive for Dr Reddy’s to move some of its manufacturing activities from India to North Louisiana,” said Amit Patel, Senior Vice President of Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories’ North American Generics.

The competitive advantages to locating and expanding in North Louisiana are confirmed by a host of top rankings the region has received in recent comparative surveys, including: #1 in cost competitiveness according to Forbes (April 2010) and KPMG Competitive Alternatives (2010); named one of the best places to find a job by U.S. News & World Report (August 2009); and #1 in governmental disclosure and ethics reform according to the Center for Public Integrity. North Louisiana’s cost of living is only 93.6 percent of the national average with one of the lowest housing costs, according to 2008-2009 Council for Community and Economic Research Cost of Living Index.

Whether you seek a place close to customers and suppliers, desire global access from a place with nationally notable and sustainable cost advantages, or want a place with the kind of life-work balance that many envy, North Louisiana offers every advantage. The region is connected by railways, interstate highways, interconnected ports with access to deep water, and air service. Centrally located to the entire Southeast, companies in North Louisiana can reach nearly 30 million consumers in some of America’s largest markets in just one day.

Consider everything the region has to offer, and let the North Louisiana Economic Partnership help with growth plans. NLEP is the first stop for existing companies or prospective companies looking to expand or locate in the 14-parish region of North Louisiana. NLEP facilitates information gathering with useful tools and resources on www.nlep.org, and can also customize request-for-information packets. With experience and a network of contacts, NLEP can help with almost any issue: from advice and advocacy on incentives to building a team of partners to support growth plans or providing logistical support and coordination for site visits. Their free services are meant to simplify the site selection process for companies or make the connection to useful resources and expert assistance that can address key operating questions or issues. Contact NLEP President, Kurt Foreman at kforeman@nlep.org, or 318-677-2536, or visit www.nlep.org.

North Louisiana: what was once the launching point for forward-thinking pioneers remains the strategic base for progressive companies.


Jefferson Parish: Nexus for High Technology Industry

In spite of a declining national economy, Jefferson Parish continues to grow its business base, especially in the technology sector. Home to the largest concentration of technology companies in Louisiana, Jefferson Parish offers a variety of state and local incentives, financing assistance and a brand new technology and business park for businesses looking to relocate or expand in the parish.

Churchill Technology and Business Park is a 500-acre park located on the outskirts of New Orleans in Avondale. The largest development of its kind in the metropolitan area, the park features build-to-suit facilities from high-end office to light manufacturing. Churchill is protected by building and landscaping codes, covenants and restrictions to maintain the integrity of the development.

The Jefferson Parish Economic Development Commission (JEDCO) is currently constructing three buildings in Churchill to house its administrative offices, finance building and technology incubator. The buildings are expected to be completed in the fall. A fourth building, the Patrick F. Taylor Science and Math Academy, will begin construction later this year and will be completed in 2011.

A highlight of the JEDCO campus is the state-of-the-art technology incubator, featuring flexible workspaces and technology enhancements, including video conferencing and a backup generator.

The incubator is designed for early stage technology-based companies and entrepreneurs, providing them with opportunities to commercialize their ideas and produce successful, financially viable businesses. The technology incubator is based on the success of the original JEDCO incubator program, where start-up companies generally focused on the creation of information technology systems. The new technology incubator will build upon that focus, working with entrepreneurial companies that are developing and expanding technology application and uses.

Because JEDCO is the managing agent for Churchill, the organization can assist companies with identifying tax credits, rebates and other applicable incentives for businesses locating in the park. For instance, the Enterprise Zone (EZ) Program offers businesses a $2,500 tax credit for each new job created, along with a five percent rebate on sales tax for materials, machinery or equipment.

Workforce development grants are available to businesses locating in the park for pre-employment training and training of existing employees.

JEDCO also serves as a financing agent, assisting with financing of fixed assets, equipment, working capital and inventory. With a strong Aa1 Moody’s Bond Rating, JEDCO utilizes the lending resources of the U.S. Small Business Administration, Economic Development Administration, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Environmental Protection Agency to meet financial requirements of parish businesses. It also is an authorized agent for the Louisiana Revolving Capital Fund.

The business resources of JEDCO—along with world-class healthcare operations and eleven local colleges and universities—provide opportunities for research and a qualified work force. Outstanding public and private schools, a reasonable housing market and a moderate cost of living add to the area’s appeal.

The area near Churchill has experienced tremendous growth over the last few years, providing a range of services and amenities including the Tournament Players Club Golf Course, Bayou Segnette Sports Complex and Bayou Segnette State Park.

While Churchill offers a tranquil setting in which to work, its proximity to New Orleans also provides ample opportunities for play. Employees can enjoy cultural offerings of neighboring New Orleans, boundless recreation activities along the Gulf Coast and a family-oriented atmosphere within Jefferson Parish.

From identifying available properties to identifying applicable incentives, from providing market data to providing workforce development programs, JEDCO helps new, relocating and expanding businesses thrive. As the only local economic development organization in Louisiana accredited by the International Economic Development Council, JEDCO offers unparalleled professionalism and expertise.

Southwest Louisiana: Open for Business

Southwest Louisiana is quickly becoming a player in the global economy as well as a major player in our nation’s economy as far as energy production, the petrochemical industry and its emerging aerospace industry. The Parishes of Southwest Louisiana—Allen, Beauregard, Cameron, Calcasieu and Jefferson Davis—bring their own mix of industry and culture to the region and these elements working together makes for a perfect combination.

With its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, Southwest Louisiana serves as the home base for the vigorous petrochemical industry and several active ports including the Port of Lake Charles—which is the closest deep-water port in Louisiana and 11th largest in the nation—the West-Calcasieu Port, East Cameron Port and Vinton Port. With three liquefied natural gas pipelines in production, what happens around the coast communities of Southwest Louisiana keeps the lights on across the nation.

Another burgeoning industry in Southwest Louisiana is aerospace, thanks in large part to the Lake Charles Regional Airport—servicing the air travel needs of 285,000 residents—and the Chennault International Airport Authority. Chennault International Airport Authority services industry players such as Northrop Grumman, Aeroframe Services, and Louisiana Millwork. It plays a major role within the economy of Southwest Louisiana with 10,000 feet of runway, the ability to handle most commercial aircraft, and 800 acres of available sites offering access to rail, road and water to best reach the rest of the nation and global market. Both the regional and international airports have foreign trade and enterprise zone designations.

Poised to promote the economic development opportunities of the region, the Chamber SWLA, its economic development arm (the SWLA Alliance Foundation), and the Southwest Louisiana Partnership for Economic Development, united resources under a new umbrella coalition to strengthen the business recruiting and retention efforts for Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, and Jeff Davis parishes under the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance.

“This Alliance helps the five parishes in our region leverage their combined resources for economic development. The forging of this merger is the first step towards what we see as our obligation to Southwest Louisiana’s citizens to build the best economic development organization in the state,” stated Alliance President/CEO George Swift.