Louisiana Tops U.S. in Workforce Training and Economic Growth Potential

Business Facilities magazine ranks LED FastStart No. 1 for third consecutive year

BATON ROUGE, La. — Today, Gov. Bobby Jindal hailed new No. 1 economic rankings for Louisiana as clear evidence the state is outperforming the South and the nation as an emerging economic powerhouse. For the third consecutive year, Business Facilities magazine has ranked LED FastStart® – Louisiana's customized workforce program for expanding companies – as the top state workforce development program in America. In addition, the magazine's 2012 Rankings Report lists Louisiana No. 1 for economic growth potential.

Gov. Jindal said, "With the help of our top-ranked workforce training program and one of the best business climates in the country, more and more companies are investing or expanding here to create great job opportunities for our people. These rankings are proof that our work to eliminate burdensome business taxes, overhaul our ethics laws, revamp our workforce training system and cut spending is paying off."

Louisiana, which Business Facilities named State of the Year in 2010, recorded widespread success in the magazine's eighth annual rankings issue. Business Facilities ranked Louisiana No. 5 for Best Business Climate last week and followed that ranking with additional categories released this week by the magazine. In addition to the new No. 1 rankings in workforce training and economic growth potential, Louisiana ranks No. 2 among states that are job growth leaders, a new category; No. 10 among states that are emerging biotech hubs, also a new category; and No. 10 for lowest cost of labor, the same ranking it received in 2011.

For LED FastStart, the third consecutive No. 1 ranking by Business Facilities represents one of a growing number of accolades. In 2010, Area Developmentmagazine recognized LED FastStart as one of three elite workforce programs in the South (along with Alabama and Georgia). In 2011, The Economist called FastStart "the most notable statewide workforce-development initiative." This month, Governing magazine wrote that Louisiana "has built a strong program in a short time (and) the results are impressive."

Since 2008, Louisiana has secured economic development projects that are creating more than 51,500 new direct and indirect jobs, more than $12.6 billion in new capital investment and hundreds of millions in new annual sales for small businesses across the state.

"Louisiana's (LED) FastStart continues to be the gold standard for workforce training programs, which increasingly are an essential element in successful economic development projects," said Business Facilities Editor in Chief Jack Rogers. "Businesses relocating to Louisiana can be certain they will have strong support from the state in acquiring and training skilled workers."

Louisiana edged out No. 2 Georgia and No. 3 Florida in the magazine's Workforce Training Leaders ranking. In Louisiana, expanding companies can receive FastStart services at no cost, so long as they meet requirements for being in a targeted industry sector and for creating a net number of new jobs (a minimum of 15 for manufacturing and 50 for service industries).

Considered a flagship category by Business Facilities, economic growth potential weighs a state's business climate, availability of skilled workforce, incentives, and education climate, among other criteria. Louisiana ranked second in the category in 2011 and this year bumped Virginia from the top spot into No. 2. The next highest-rated state from the South – Texas – ranked No. 6.

"With a diverse and well-executed economic development strategy, a workforce training program that sets the standard for the nation, and a full menu of innovative incentives, Louisiana is marching forward on a path to prosperity and growth," said the magazine's editor-in-chief, Jack Rogers. "Business climate and growth potential go hand in hand. Louisiana has made it clear to businesses looking to expand, relocate or establish new facilities that it is well-prepared to meet their needs."

Louisiana's No. 5 Business Facilities ranking for Best Business Climate is up from No. 7 in 2011, and it continues a climb in the state's economic development fortunes. Before its upswing began in 2008, Louisiana languished in the lower tier of state business climate rankings. Today, Area Development ranks Louisiana No. 6 in the magazine's Top States for Doing Business report, while Site Selection magazine ranks Louisiana No. 7 among the best business climates in the U.S. Louisiana now stands at its highest-ever position in every major national ranking of state business climates, including those published by Area DevelopmentBusiness Facilities, CNBC, Forbes, Pollina Corporate Real Estate, Site Selection and Chief Executive.

Business Facilities has been a leading source of intelligence on corporate expansion and relocation projects since 1968. For more on the 2012 Rankings Report, visit the magazine's website.