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FDI Focus

Louisiana Sets Sights On Expanding Investment From Foreign Firms

After attracting multibillion-dollar investments from overseas, Louisiana leaders are still aiming for greater success. Since 2008, Louisiana has logged more than $60 billion in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) activity. That track record puts the state in prized territory: No. 1 in the U.S. for per capita FDI attraction.

Since 2008, Louisiana has logged more than $60 billion in foreign direct investment, or FDI, activity.

Louisiana Economic Development hopes to sustain that momentum by developing a strategic FDI tool with support of the U.S. Economic Development Administration. LED’s Office of International Commerce earned a $170,000 grant in May 2017 from the federal EDA.

That grant will support the development of the Predictive Investment Model (PRIMO) for foreign direct investment attraction. PRIMO will provide LED with an intelligent recruitment tool that forecasts which high-growth international companies are most likely to expand in the U.S. in the near future.

Wanhua Chemical’s recent selection of Louisiana for its $1.12 billion polyurethane complex is just one of the state’s significant FDI wins.

“Louisiana has a great deal to offer high-growth international companies,” says LED’s Sheba Person-Whitley, senior international trade manager. “The new PRIMO grant will enhance our efforts to find the partners that best fit what we have to offer.”

By identifying FDI opportunities as they emerge, Louisiana can move ahead of the competition for key international investments.

Recent FDI wins include the selection of Louisiana by Sasol Ltd. for its $11 billion ethylene chemical complex in Lake Charles; by South Korea-based Lotte Chemical for its U.S. headquarters and $3 billion in related ethylene expansion projects with Westlake Chemical in Lake Charles; by China-based Wanhua Chemical Group for a $1.12 billion polyurethane complex, whose specific site location will be selected later this year; and by Benteler Steel/Tube for its $975 million seamless steel tube mill in Shreveport.

Louisiana is now home to more than 500 international companies from approximately 50 different countries, with more than 57,000 jobs supported by foreign-owned enterprises. PRIMO will position Louisiana for additional international investments.

Louisiana is now home to more than 500 international companies from approximately 50 different countries, with more than 57,000 jobs supported by foreign-owned enterprises.

“This type of investment opens the door to what we’re seeing now in Lake Charles, as it has become a central hub for industrial growth led by international companies,” said LED’s Person-Whitley. “There was initial investment and resources, which leads to a multiplier effect that includes additional construction and new infrastructure.

The additional upside is that Louisiana has sites across the state ready for development, just like Lake Charles, and we’re set to match them with the right investor.”

Investment by companies like Yuhuang Chemical of China (a $1.85 billion methanol complex on the Mississippi River), Methanex (a $1.1 billion investment in two methanol plants, south of Baton Rouge) and Incitec Pivot Ltd. of Australia (a combined $1.025 billion ammonia production project with Cornerstone Chemical Company near New Orleans) demonstrate Louisiana’s advantages for global industry.

What makes Louisiana so attractive to foreign investors?

The state’s business climate combines a wide range of advantages that create an environment conducive to foreign investment. Its business costs rank among the 10 lowest in the nation for new facilities, relocations and expansions for various firm types.

Louisiana offers LED FastStart®, the nation’s No. 1 state workforce development program for eight consecutive years. LED FastStart creates customized workforce recruitment, screening and training solutions to eligible new and expanding Louisiana-based operations – all at no cost. Likewise, Louisiana is a right-to-work state, and since 2008 has invested more than $38 million in higher education institutions to boost computer science and STEM graduates across Louisiana.

Foreign investors also turn to Louisiana for its robust transportation advantages. The state is home to six interstate highways, six Class I railroads, seven primary airports, and six deep water ports, including one of the largest port complexes in the world, and over two dozen coastal, deep water and inland ports. And notably, New Orleans acts as an international hub with a variety of airlines and flights to connect company executives to global destinations.

This connectivity converges with Louisiana’s abundant natural resources, from timber, soybeans and sugar cane to crude oil and natural gas, which support the operations of a wide range of industry sectors and projects.

Louisiana is home to more than 80 industrial sites that can be development-ready within 180 days, which is highly appealing to foreign investors. The state’s rigorous Certified Sites review puts locations through five detailed engineering analyses and a third-party review. For prospects such as Sasol, Louisiana’s ability to apply GIS data to potential sites shortened development times — and the costs that accompany them — by many months.

By combining competitive advantages such as the new PRIMO grant, LED FastStart, robust transportation options, available workforce, and more than 80 certified sites, Louisiana creates a beneficial environment for foreign businesses to succeed. As a result, the state is frequently recognized among the top locations in the nation for foreign direct investment.

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