Louisiana: Where Partnerships Propel Innovation and Investment

By the BF Staff
From the September/October 2015 Issue

A rendering of CSC’s next-generation IT center at the National Cyber Research Park in Bossier City, Louisiana, where 800 technology professionals will work after the technology and data center opens in 2016. (Credit: Louisiana Economic Development)

Louisiana is bringing together state, regional and local partners, including business and higher education resources, in intelligent collaborations yielding sustainable economic growth.

If Louisiana’s numbers depict a story of success—new project wins generating more than $62 billion in capital investment and 91,000 jobs since 2008—the state’s strategic approach to economic development tells a story of how the mission is being accomplished.

Louisiana’s historic investment and job levels coincide with an intelligent response to contemporary site selection needs, with a special emphasis on:

  • Integrated site and workforce solutions.
  • Increased cultivation of international investments.
  • Innovative partnerships among state, regional and local partners, including higher education campuses.

For Louisiana, intelligent partnerships are playing a crucial role in major economic development projects, from world-scale energy complexes to next-generation technology centers and aerospace assembly sites.

Bell Helicopter’s choice of Lafayette heralded a new era for aircraft assembly in Louisiana. The company’s selection of Lafayette, Louisiana, for production of its new 505 Jet Ranger X helicopter reflected Lafayette’s status as a major energy transportation hub. But it also recognized the region’s emergence as a leading innovation hub with significant partnership opportunities.

The Open Technology Institute ranks the city’s home broadband speeds the fastest in the world, the city is home to a growing research university (the University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Lafayette ranks as the fifth-best U.S. city for job growth (Business Facilities), and researchers from Harvard University and the Vancouver School of Economics rank Lafayette as the happiest city in the U.S.

“We considered several sites for this new facility, and Louisiana’s proposal demonstrated the state’s commitment to economic development,” Bell Helicopter CEO John Garrison said. “The state’s established aerospace industry and exceptional workforce training programs were also key factors in our decision.”

Louisiana’s aerospace accomplishments are substantial. NASA operates one of the world’s largest manufacturing facilities in eastern New Orleans, where development of Saturn V rockets and Space Shuttle external tanks have led to today’s assembly of the NASA Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft for missions to the moon and Mars.

For Bell Helicopter’s project in Lafayette, state leaders funded a new aircraft assembly center that will be owned by Lafayette Regional Airport, leased to Bell, and located near other major flight services companies. More than $37 million in capital costs shared by the state and company will be accompanied by 250 new direct and indirect jobs. Bell Helicopter, which expects to begin production in 2016, already has secured several hundred customer orders for its new commercial aircraft.


A critical partnership component for Bell Helicopter and other Louisiana investors is LED FastStart®, the state’s comprehensive workforce solutions program that’s available at no cost to eligible companies expanding or relocating in Louisiana. Ranked No. 1 in the U.S. for six consecutive years by Business Facilities, LED FastStart works at the speed of business, gaining a complete understanding of companies’ culture and goals, and implementing a recruitment, screening and training plan to ensure that employees are fully prepared to launch new projects from day one.

In the Shreveport-Bossier City metro area in Northwest Louisiana, technology solutions provider CSC—a Fortune 500 company—embraced LED FastStart’s ability to train new technology workers who are emerging from Louisiana higher education campuses and making the transition from major military installations, such as Barksdale Air Force Base and Fort Polk, one of the U.S. Army’s key training posts.

Also attractive to CSC were the state and region’s multiyear preparation to attract major technology employers. In convincing CSC to select Louisiana over 133 competing sites in other states, Louisiana leaders pointed to the 3,000-acre National Cyber Research Park in Bossier City, where more than $100 million invested in a Cyber Innovation Center provided CSC its temporary home while a 116,000-square-foot, next-generation IT center is completed in 2016. CSC will create 800 direct jobs, with a 10-year, $14 million higher education initiative led by Louisiana Tech University and supported by Bossier Parish Community College and Northwestern State University.

Major international investors also are selecting Louisiana for the state’s intelligent partnerships. For Benteler Steel/Tube’s $975 million seamless steel tube and steel mill complex in Shreveport, the State of Louisiana opened a $22 million Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Technology at Bossier Parish Community College in late 2014. Benteler’s 675 employees will gain world-class training on complex machinery at the center, and other regional manufacturers will benefit from the center in future years.

A similar approach at SOWELA Technical Community College in Lake Charles, Louisiana, helped convince global energy producer Sasol Ltd. to launch an $8.1 billion ethane cracker complex in Southwest Louisiana. The company, which had existing chemical and R&D operations in the region, will create 500 new direct jobs averaging $88,000 a year, plus benefits. Louisiana’s GIS-enabled site selection assistance and comprehensive workforce solutions were keys to attracting the historic investment.

Learn more about Louisiana’s innovative solutions at OpportunityLouisiana.com.