Louisiana advanced its business-friendly climate in 2016 with top rankings by U.S. site-selection experts for workforce training, job-creation and other programs, and new and expanded growth and recruitment initiatives. The state also attracted billions of dollars in new projects in biotech, information technology, advanced manufacturing, agribusiness and other industries.


Climbing to the Top

For a record seven years running, Business Facilities magazine ranked LED FastStart® the nation’s No. 1 state workforce training program, an area of continued importance for companies looking for the best location to grow their operations.

Louisiana’s high-profile workforce-training program was singled out for excellence in the design and execution of flexible custom screening, training and recruitment for companies across a range of industries.

LED FastStart is offered at no cost to qualified companies in target sectors that include manufacturing, software and digital media, headquarters and corporate business operations, research and development, and warehousing and distribution.


Groundbreaking FastStart initiatives touch every region of the state. They include a public-private education partnership among LED, Louisiana State University and IBM, which chose Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to develop a newly opened 800-job technology center.

In north Louisiana, LED FastStart collaborated with Bossier Parish Community College and local and state officials to develop a $22 million training center for Benteler Steel/Tube. The Austrian company chose Louisiana for a $975 million hot-rolling steel plant—its first in the U.S.

LED FastStart has created screening, recruiting and workforce-development strategies for more than 150 companies investing in Louisiana since 2008, including CSRA, CGI, GE Capital and New Orleans video-game developer Gameloft. Read more about Louisiana’s custom solutions these companies received.

The quality and flexibility of LED FastStart continued to outpace competition from the growing number of state workforce-training programs across the U.S. Learn more about LED FastStart’s workforce solutions.

LED FastStart has created screening, recruitment and workforce-development strategies for more than 150 companies investing in Louisiana since 2008.



The magazine also placed Louisiana in the Top 10 among states in 2016 for infrastructure, international commerce and utility costs. Learn more about Louisiana’s Business Facilities rankings.

Also in 2016, Site Selection magazine ranked the state No. 7 on its list of the Top 10 Best States for Business, a reflection of more than $135 billion since 2012 of new capital investments with the potential for more than 100,000 new jobs. Learn more about Louisiana’s Site Selection ranking.

Area Development placed Louisiana at the No. 5 spot—the state’s best-ever assessment—in its Top 10 States for Doing Business report for 2016, marking a three-spot jump since the state’s No. 8 ranking in the magazine’s annual ranking a year before. Learn more about Louisiana’s Area Development ranking.

Louisiana continued to outperform larger states in attracting business investments and jobs, including other southern states. Southern Business & Development ranked the state No. 1 in the number of significant business investment and job-creation projects per capita, also for the seventh year in a row. Learn more about Louisiana’s Southern Business & Development ranking.


The ranking reflects project announcements made in 2015. They include Axiall Corp. and Lotte Chemical Corp.’s combined $3 billion investment in two new manufacturing plants in Lake Charles, Louisiana, which will create 215 direct jobs, and a 400-job IBM application development and innovation center in Monroe, Louisiana. The IBM project is tied to growth of Monroe’s tech powerhouse CenturyLink, which is partnering with IBM on research, development and product innovation for software clients across the U.S.


Big Opportunities for Small Business

Louisiana in 2016 also enhanced its focus on small firms as a critical driver of the state’s economy, rolling out several initiatives targeting small-business growth. They include:

  • Reinstatement for 2016-17 of the STEP program, a Small Business Administration program to help small Louisiana businesses grow export-related sales. Read more about the reinstatement of the STEP program.
  • Re-establishment of the Louisiana Contractors Accreditation Institute, a training program designed to boost access to education and information for small contractors. Learn more about the Louisiana Contractors Accreditation Institute.
  • Expanded access to bonding assistance for small firms that need additional bonding capacity for private- and public-sector opportunities.
  • Launch of the LED Diversity Committee to advocate for opportunities and advance training and entrepreneurship among women- and minority-owned small businesses in Louisiana.

Learn about Louisiana’s resources for starting and growing a small business.


Growing Infrastructure

Louisiana also continued to expand its tools, programs and infrastructure to speed and streamline business development, including construction-ready sites for large projects.


The state moved to the No. 4 spot in the U.S. in the number of build-ready sites for large industrial projects, adding 16 sites totaling 4,500 acres in 14 parishes.

More than 70 development-ready sites are now available through LED’s Certified Sites Program. Each site of 25 acres or more has ready access to logistics infrastructure essential to large projects. Sites also have completed in-depth LED and independent, third-party review of zoning, environmental studies, soil analysis and other factors to reduce uncertainty and potential delays to construction.

LED also instituted a Certified Business Sites Program to identify smaller development-ready and office sites. The new program identifies sites of 10 to 25 acres that have been reviewed for zoning and other fundamental business considerations.

For both site-certification programs, the goal is to compress the timeframe for the launch of new ventures or expansions by completing critical legwork in the site-selection process so companies looking to grow can move quickly.



Developing Workforce

In line with its recognition of the role of workforce quality and availability in site-selection decisions, Louisiana continued to invest in human capital, including training programs focused on a manufacturing sector comprised of 4,500 companies and 137,000 jobs.

LED FastStart highlighted manufacturing careers through its “Dream It. Do It.” initiative to promote workforce training opportunities, including its Certification for Manufacturing program, or C4M. The program provides basic manufacturing skills to students in high schools and technical and community colleges across Louisiana to facilitate workforce growth and employment opportunities.

LED FastStart’s “Dream It. Do It.” initiative highlighted manufacturing careers and workforce training opportunities.

Louisiana invests in its human capital through its training programs and education institutions, including the Louisiana Community and Technical College System.


Attracting Business

Companies in emerging and established sectors alike invested in the state and created jobs in biotechnology, software, energy and agribusiness. Firms cited factors such as a highly skilled workforce, unparalleled transportation infrastructure, low costs and pro-business climate in choosing Louisiana in 2016.

General Informatics announced it will invest in a new technology park in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at the @Highland office park.

Companies that invested in the state include Crown Bioscience Inc., which chose New Iberia, Louisiana, for development of a pharmaceutical research center to advance treatments for cardiovascular disease and metabolic disorders.

CrownBio will coordinate its research efforts with the New Iberia Research Center, an affiliate of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, which specializes in the management of nonhuman primates for applied and basic research

“It was important for us to be located at a facility with multiple research capabilities … (that can bring) drugs to the clinical phase,” said Jean-Pierre Wery, CrownBio president.

The state has become a hotbed for technology companies in recent years, a development that gained speed in 2016.

Tech-related announcements included Virginia-based CSRA’s decision to open a 300-job client-services center in Bossier City to support government technology customers.

CSRA, which provides cloud-based information technology to government clients across the nation, was already developing an 800-job integrated technology center at the 3,000-acre National Cyber Research Park in Bossier City, Louisiana, when it announced its second project in northwest Louisiana.


New and expanded technology projects spanned the state. General Informatics announced an investment of $20 million in a new technology park in Baton Rouge that will create nearly 150 jobs.

Waitr, the developer of a restaurant-delivery app and related technology, announced that it will open a 100-job technology center in Lafayette to support expansion of its technology in markets across the South.

Companies in established industries like energy and agribusiness also chose Louisiana for state-of the-art operations with a global reach. Venture Global LNG will develop an $8.5 billion natural gas liquefaction and export facility in Plaquemines Parish that will create 250 new, direct jobs and is expected to result in 728 new, indirect jobs.

Venture Global was already developing a $4.5 billion project in Cameron Parish when it announced the larger project in December 2016.

Agribusiness titan Monsanto placed a nearly $1 billion vote of confidence in Louisiana. The company announced a $975 million expansion at its Luling, Louisiana, manufacturing site that will create more than 540 new jobs.

Success Breeds Success

Such project wins reflect the hard work of creating and maintaining a business-friendly environment in the state, and those efforts should continue to pay dividends well into the future.

“Considering our highly skilled workforce, our geographic resources, and the robust economic development partnerships on the state, regional and local levels, companies from all across the globe continue to look to Louisiana as a smart and strategic destination for their next business investment.” Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “The investment by these companies is a testament to our strong global position.”

To read more about Louisiana Economic Developments achievements in 2016, view the annual report.

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