Louisiana’s infrastructure, workforce and incentives converge to create a competitive environment that facilitates long-term growth for companies across the state.

Orion Instruments Achieves Global Reach From Louisiana

From a base of operations in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Orion Instruments has grown from modest start-up to 110-employee global manufacturer since its launch in 2001. As a provider of high-quality custom magnetic level indicators – specialized instrumentation for process manufacturing – Orion has developed a substantial international clientele. And like many other Louisiana companies leading their fields, Orion has taken great strides with the help of Louisiana Economic Development.

Operating from a 50,000-square-foot facility, Orion produces instrumentation that helps a wide variety of industries monitor and control liquid levels, a key component in process manufacturing. The instruments are built to withstand the world’s harshest conditions, from Arctic cold to desert heat, as well as marine environments. More than 65 percent of the company’s sales are overseas. International customers are supported by Orion employees who collectively speak eight different languages.



“Our focus was always to establish a global reach,” Orion General Manager Don Sanders said. “And we’ve been able to do this from the heart of Baton Rouge.”

Orion’s success, says Sanders, is tied to several factors, including a powerful focus on understanding the needs of its domestic and international customers. Moreover, Sanders said, the company has been able to anticipate growth in the industrial sector, wherever it may emerge next across the globe. Orion has also thrived with help from Louisiana’s growth-driven business climate.

Orion is not alone. In the last decade, a wave of large manufacturers located in Louisiana have utilized an ingredient mix that includes a multi-modal transportation network, robust workforce development and a variety of custom-fit state incentives that have made it easier to strengthen infrastructure, grow staff and launch new ideas.

We had a choice when we were preparing to build this facility in 2011, and that included looking at Texas and Mississippi. But what Louisiana Economic Development put together made it possible for us to really create a footprint in Louisiana. They’ve been a great partner. - Don Sanders General Manager // Orion Instruments

The Industrial Tax Exemption and Enterprise Zone programs as well as the Research and Development Tax Credit assisted the company in building its new facility and hiring additional talent, says Sanders.

Orion has also worked closely with the state’s flagship university, Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, to recruit multilingual students with an interest in international business.

Orion Instruments worker checks instruments
Orion Instruments, Baton Rouge

Workforce Training Creates Unique Advantage For Ronpak

For the custom-printed paper bag manufacturer, Ronpak, the decision to select Shreveport, Louisiana, as the site of a major company expansion in 2010 has paid off, Ronpak Chief Operating Officer Kevin Wascom said.

With manufacturing facilities on the East and West Coasts, Ronpak needed to establish a site that could help it meet additional demand and give it better reach across the central and southern regions of the country. Because the company serves a large number of fast food or quick service restaurants, Dallas emerged as an early contender for the expansion location. The city is a major distribution hub for the quick service restaurant industry.

But the north Louisiana city of Shreveport, located just three hours east of Dallas, began to make more sense. LED created a package that helped Ronpak establish a new manufacturing presence in the South and quickly hire a qualified workforce.

Today, the Shreveport site not only turns out high-quality products for Ronpak’s customers; it serves as a showcase facility for prospective clients. The company committed further to Louisiana by announcing a decision in 2012 to move its headquarters from New Jersey to the Pelican State. Ronpak’s presence in Louisiana will result in the addition of 275 new jobs by the end of 2018.



Because of Ronpak’s significant job commitment, Louisiana offered a group of incentives to support Ronpak’s growth. While its new manufacturing facility was being built in Shreveport, Ronpak was able to use 30,000 square feet of temporary space in Shreveport’s Regional Center, a multipurpose building that also serves as headquarters of the Port of Caddo-Bossier.

To staff operations, Ronpak leaned on the services of LED FastStart®, the No. 1 state workforce development program in the nation.

“FastStart was absolutely critical to our success in terms of helping us recruit and train, but also in managing the process,” Wascom said.

Interest in employment at Ronpak among regional workers was overwhelming. More than 1,000 individuals showed up at a recruitment fair where an initial 50 positions were to be filled. FastStart managed the hiring process, helping Ronpak find the right people from a generous pool of applicants.

“From there, they developed training materials on video and iPads and worked with our teams to make sure new employees were trained properly,” Wascom said.

LED also offered a performance-based grant for equipment purchases. And Ronpak took advantage of the state’s Industrial Tax Exemption and Quality Jobs programs, which enabled the firm to reinvest profits in additional growth. In fact, because of its significant partnership with the State of Louisiana, Ronpak has committed that all of its future growth will happen at the Shreveport facility, a modern site capable of meeting additional demand.

Smoothie King store interior
Smoothie King, New Orleans

Louisiana Offers Compelling Reasons to Remain, Expand

Louisiana has teamed up with other companies to great effect all across the state.

Smoothie King, based in Metairie, Louisiana, has been able to create a global brand for its quick-service fruit smoothies. Launched in Jefferson Parish in the 1970s, the brand has become synonymous with athletic performance through careful branding.

In 2012, company owner Wan Kim committed to remaining in Metairie and expanding the company’s headquarters there after receiving an incentive package that included a performance-based grant payable over five years. The incentive package also offsets lease payments and office improvements at Smoothie King's headquarters office and offsets flight differential costs for New Orleans versus other markets.

Currently, the company has 880 stores across the world, with a goal of 1,000 total stores by the end of 2017.

Crest Industries, a Pineville, Louisiana-based company, primarily supplies goods and services to the energy, petrochemical and electrical utility industries through the U.S. and abroad. Utilizing a variety of incentives, including Quality Jobs and LED FastStart, Crest Industries has completed four expansions and acquisitions in Louisiana, investing more than $30 million in new capital projects.

“We continue to believe in, and invest in, the State of Louisiana. For more than 50 years, Crest Industries has built a reputation of quality service for our customers and career growth opportunities for our employees,” said Crest CEO Kenneth Robison.

Century Link front lobby
CenturyLink, Monroe

CenturyLink Continues Rapid Growth, Partners With IBM

CenturyLink, headquartered in Monroe, Louisiana, will become the second largest U.S. domestic communications provider serving global enterprise customers when it completes the acquisition of Level 3 Communications later in 2017.

We appreciate the partnership we’ve had with LED and the state to recognize the potential of this company and to help us establish a world-class facility. – John Jones vice president of public policy and government relations // CenturyLink

Founded in 1930 as the Oak Ridge Telephone Company, CenturyLink has grown through a series of key acquisitions and strategic decisions. While it acquired large telecommunications companies from all over the country, CenturyLink chose to remain in Louisiana and take advantage of the state’s competitive business climate to help it expand into new markets and diversify products and services.

Centurylink Building

CenturyLink, headquartered in Monroe, Louisiana, has grown into the second largest telecommunications firm in the country and the third largest in the world.

Louisiana crafted a package for CenturyLink that included assistance with the construction costs for a new facility as well as a comprehensive program for workforce development. Today, more than 2,500 employees guide CenturyLink from a campus that includes its LEED-certified Technology Center of Excellence and its headquarters building.

“We’re diversifying in ways that would not be recognizable several years ago,” Jones says. “And we’re working with a lot of key players in the area to brand Louisiana’s Interstate 20 corridor as a technology hub that can attract top talent.”

CenturyLink’s glassy Technology Center – a sleek, high-tech facility – feels every bit as modern as Silicon Valley. LED has worked closely with the Fortune 150 company to ensure that a steady pipeline of talent supports current and future positions. LED FastStart helped CenturyLink recruit talent from around the country and forged partnerships between the company and higher education institutions in the region. 

Louisiana is investing $4.5 million over 10 years to help CenturyLink and other technology companies expand partnerships and develop targeted curricula with the University of Louisiana at Monroe, Delta Community College, Bossier Parish Community College, Grambling State University and Louisiana Tech University in nearby Ruston, site of the country’s first undergraduate program in Cyber Engineering.  

“These partnerships are critical,” says Jones. “We’re committed to a long-term strategy, and we think developing a local workforce is part of the future.”

One of LED and CenturyLink’s shared objectives has been to successfully attract top technology partners to the Monroe area, further fostering CenturyLink’s ability to grow and amplifying its economic development impact. That strategy is working. In 2015, IBM announced its decision to establish a 400-job Client Innovation Center in Monroe, the anchor tenant of an 88-acre, CenturyLink-affiliated technology park and mixed-use development. The new development will be located along U.S. Highway 165 directly across from CenturyLink’s corporate headquarters. 

“We’re proud to be part of this innovative public-private partnership with the State of Louisiana and CenturyLink to further develop highly valued skills and solutions expertise in security, analytics and mobility applications,” said Colleen Arnold, IBM’s former senior vice president for application management services. “Louisiana is the right place for high-tech job growth with an exceptional education system, business environment and workforce to serve the needs of our clients.”

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