By the BF Staff
From the May / June 2023 Issue
Business Facilities: Tell us about the status of economic development in Louisiana and the business climate in your state.
Don Pierson: Louisiana continues to expand its economy by leveraging its unique business advantages, sector diversity, and support for innovation and climate action. 2022 was the second consecutive year in which companies announced more than $20 billion of new business development and expansion projects in the state, and the fifth consecutive year of capital investment growth.
“Louisiana remains poised for additional expansion and innovation, positioning our state for long-term success in a rapidly changing global economy at the same time that more residents are entering the workforce than ever before.”
More than 9,000 new direct and indirect jobs are expected to result from the 53 major economic development projects in 24 parishes across the state’s eight economic regions. Louisiana remains poised for additional expansion and innovation, positioning our state for long-term success in a rapidly changing global economy at the same time that more residents are entering the workforce than ever before.
BF: Why should companies consider Louisiana for relocation or expansion? What are long-standing advantages or recent developments that businesses should consider?
Pierson: Companies establishing their first Louisiana ventures are welcomed by a pro-business ecosystem committed to supplying the resources necessary for success. The most compelling evidence of this exceptional business climate is found in the pace and scale of reinvestments that existing companies are making across the state. These companies run the gamut from traditional verticals like energy, manufacturing, and agribusiness to emerging sectors like tech and life sciences, and they find at their disposal Louisiana’s abundant and accessible natural resources such as natural gas, timber, and salt.
Perhaps the state’s largest natural resource is the Mississippi River, which serves as a gateway to international markets via the Gulf of Mexico and provides direct access by barge to 17 states. Superior transportation logistics extend to six deep draft ports, six Class I railroads, six interstate highways, seven primary airports, and 50,000 miles of pipeline. All of these advantages and resources, alongside state investments and higher education partnerships, have created a business hub where all industries can grow and thrive.
BF: What is a recent project relocation or expansion you’d like to tell us about?
Pierson: In March, Placid Refining announced it is investing $66 million to relocate its headquarters from Dallas, TX to Baton Rouge as well as to modernize its existing facility located just across the Mississippi River from its new home. Placid’s Port Allen facility has produced a full range of transportation fuels that service a variety of industries and supplies jet fuel to the U.S. Department of Defense since 1975. The upgrades will allow the facility, which has a capacity to refine up to 82,000 barrels of crude oil per day, to enhance refining processes and strengthen Placid’s competitive position in the state.
Two weeks after the Placid announcement, United Utility unveiled plans to establish its new national headquarters in New Orleans. A portfolio company of Baton Rouge-based Bernhard Capital Partners, United Utility has expanded rapidly since starting operations in 2018, acquiring nine top-rated power transmission and distribution providers. The firm, a power transmission and distribution provider, looks to build upon the growing impact BCP and its companies, including Lemoine and Epic Piping, have had on the state’s economy and infrastructure.
BF: Would you highlight an incentive or other program that is having an impact on the Louisiana business climate? Or tell us about a recently introduced program.
Pierson: Companies across a diverse industrial spectrum can count on Louisiana to deliver a skilled workforce. LED FastStart—recognized as America’s best customized workforce training program in 2022 for the 13th year in a row—continues to lead the charge with cutting-edge technology, creative education partnerships, and a long-term commitment to sustaining the state’s talent pipeline. This three-pronged approach to recruiting, training, and sustaining skilled workers has a track record of success, expanding access and increasing talent pools at no cost to qualified companies.
LED FastStart’s approach stands out from counterpart programs in larger states due to four powerful differentiators: customized micro-training with virtual reality and artificial intelligence capability across a range of industries; a next-generation job seeker platform that expands access and increases talent pool diversity; a growing portfolio of secondary and higher education partnerships; and the development of a technologically advanced innovation center.
BF: What does the future hold for the state’s business climate?
Ucore North America will create 100 jobs in Alexandria at North America’s first modern technology rare earth element separation and purification facility. And, United Utility Services establishes HQ in New Orleans. Read more…
Pierson: As important as the list of accomplishments for 2022 is, this is only the groundwork for future growth. We continue to empower small businesses—the backbone of the state’s economy—through programs like the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), which will offer Louisiana’s entrepreneurs up to $113 million in support across five programs—with particular emphasis on traditionally underserved or disadvantaged businesses.
Success in the future economy demands diversification, which our state continues to support with important investments in emerging sectors such as tech, life sciences, and aerospace while simultaneously fostering innovation in established industries like energy and manufacturing. And our unambiguous embrace of the growing clean energy economy has attracted investment from both legacy energy companies and start-ups in emissions reduction technologies and offshore wind, solar, and renewable fuels projects. All the while, we tirelessly work to recruit, train, and sustain Louisiana’s most valuable resource—a skilled and versatile workforce. Economic growth requires us to fix our gaze forward, and the view is clear: Louisiana’s economic foundation is strong, and the future is bright and sustainable.