Louisiana Economic Development issued the 2019 LED Annual Report recently, outlining projects that represented more than $8 billion in new capital investment and more than 12,300 new jobs and 15,500 retained jobs.
The Annual Report details the state’s economic gains sparked by new project wins; workforce development innovation; best-in-class small business services; and key partnerships that join LED and allied economic development organizations, elected officials, employers and higher education systems throughout Louisiana. Since 2016, Louisiana has attracted more than 210 project wins generating 40,000 new jobs, 36,000 retained jobs and $42 billion in new capital investment.
“Louisiana enjoyed significant growth and development in 2019, and our momentum is building because of our economic development success,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “Far more economic opportunities exist today for our people to secure a quality education, participate in job training, or develop a rewarding career. Truly, our brightest days are ahead, as we realize our goal of making life in Louisiana better.”
In April 2019, Gov. Edwards and LED worked with CenturyLink to secure its headquarters in Monroe through 2025. Gov. Edwards joined Republic of Korea Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon in May 2019 to dedicate the $3.1 billion Lotte Chemical Complex in Lake Charles, developed in partnership with Westlake Chemical. Methanex announced a $1.3 billion methanol plant in July 2019, its third plant in Ascension Parish and one that will result in 263 new jobs in the Capital Region. Also in the Capital Region, ExxonMobil announced a nearly $500 million investment in March 2019, with plans for a new polypropylene manufacturing unit that will yield 284 new direct and indirect jobs.
In Lafayette, Swiss helicopter manufacturer Kopter Group AG announced the company would assemble its SH09 helicopters at Lafayette Regional Airport, a project that will result in over 275 new jobs. Also in Lafayette, LHC Group broke ground on a 500-job home office expansion for the company’s home health and hospice operations in 36 states. Delek US announced a $150 million refinery investment in St. Landry Parish, retaining 200 jobs and creating 30 new jobs. Valero and Diamond Green Diesel announced a combined $1.5 billion investment in St. Charles Parish, including Valero’s alkylation project and Diamond Green’s renewable diesel project, which will retain nearly 600 jobs and result in 126 new direct and indirect jobs in Louisiana’s Southeast Region.
Central Louisiana secured new projects, with the announcement of AFCO Industries’ $3.62 million expansion of its building materials manufacturing facility in Alexandria, which will retain 168 jobs and create 16 new direct jobs. Alexandria-based RoyOMartin announced a combined $25 million investment to modernize its plants in Chopin and Oakdale. In St. Tammany Parish, medical supply company Medline announced it will build an 800,000-square-foot distribution center, which will result in more than 1,000 new direct and indirect jobs. Nearby on I-12, Ampirical began building a $20 million corporate headquarters, with over 600 new direct and indirect jobs to result over the next decade.
“At LED, we are proud of our accomplishments that spanned 2019, and we know that success in economic development requires strategic planning, a strong commitment to continual improvement, and execution of a great business plan,” said LED Secretary Don Pierson. “We delivered resources to support our business climate and our communities, and we have seen these programs gain the recognition of national and international groups, including LED FastStart’s 10th consecutive ranking as the nation’s No.1 state workforce training program, and LED Small Business Services earning an IEDC Gold Award for the best entrepreneurship programs in the economic development profession. Collaborations with local leaders, higher education institutions and international partners continue to form the foundation for Louisiana’s sustained economic success.”
In 2019, LED fostered collaborations to facilitate new opportunities for Louisianans. Examples include the Louisiana Cyber Coordination Center in Baton Rouge, a cybersecurity partnership with the Louisiana National Guard, LSU’s Stephenson Technologies Corp., the Baton Rouge Area Foundation and Radiance Technologies on the Water Campus; and the Louisiana Coastal Technical Assistance Center. The CTAC partnership at Nicholls State University joins LED, the South Louisiana Economic Council, the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, the university and The Water Institute of the Gulf in helping Louisiana contractors, subcontractors and suppliers qualify for work in Louisiana’s growing water management sector.
Other 2019 higher education partnerships included two economic development initiatives at Louisiana Tech: a $15 million commercial office building, Tech Pointe II, that will generate an estimated 750 new jobs over the next decade; and a $10 million Louisiana Tech Research Institute hub at the National Cyber Research Park in Bossier City, where LTRI will support the development of defense-related technologies at Barksdale Air Force Base.
In February, LED signed a $1.2 million computer science initiative with Grambling State University to advance technology careers. Among other measures, the agreement will create a Technology Advisory Council to solidify industry relationships; support further development of the state’s first bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity at Grambling State; bolster other computer science degree programs; and support the $16.6 million digital library under construction at the university.
Best In Class
In 2019, the International Economic Development Council named LED’s Small Business Services the best in the economic development profession, with a Gold Award for Excellence in Entrepreneurship. Business Facilities magazine named LED FastStart® the No. 1 state workforce training program in the U.S. for a record 10th consecutive year. The LED Certified Sites Program surpassed the century mark, making the LED program’s 110 certified sites one of the best inventories of development-ready sites in the U.S. LED’s Louisiana Development Ready Communities Program grew to 42 members, as Morgan City and Berwick joined the ranks of Louisiana municipalities and parishes that are preparing for economic growth through the development and execution of a strategic plan.
LED’s economic development success is contributing to the state’s overall economic growth. The state’s Gross Domestic Product, or GDP, is at an all-time high of more than $263 billion, with an annual growth rate that reached 3.8 percent in early 2019 as the 10th fastest-growing state economy. In July 2019, Southern Business & Development ranked Louisiana No. 2 in the South for the strongest economic development results, based on the state’s share of leading capital investment and job creation projects. In September, Louisiana earned recognition as a Top 10 state for doing business from Area Development magazine, for the ninth consecutive year. In November, Site Selection magazine named Louisiana a Top 10 state business climate for the 10th consecutive year.