Louisiana has reason to celebrate but no time to bask. With more people flocking to the Bayou, officials must keep pace for the never-ending jobs race.
Louisiana’s economy is outperforming the nation. While the state’s population grew by more than 157,000 from July 2007 to April 2010, its unemployment rates have remained relatively low. In November 2010 the unemployment national average was 9.8 percent. Louisiana’s rate was 8.2 percent, a full point below even the Southern average.
“Our aggressive focus on preserving our existing jobs and attracting new jobs is resulting in increases in our national rankings, improvements in our business climate, population in-migration and most importantly more good job opportunities for our people,” Gov. Bobby Jindal says.
According Louisiana Economic Development (LED) officials, Louisiana tied for third among all U.S. states in Gallup’s Job Creation Index for 2009. It held positive ground in 2010 as well with an above average index of 11.6. According to Moody’s Economy Adversity Index, New Orleans, Lafayette and Lake Charles have emerged from the recession. But the governor and the state’s economic development officials aren’t about to rest easy. In fact, Gov. Jindal laid out the Louisiana Way Forward.
“The Louisiana Way Forward means that during these tough economic times, we’re pursuing reforms and efficiencies that make government do more with less. Families and business across Louisiana are tightening their belts and we’re doing the same for state government,” says Gov. Jindal. “The Louisiana Way Forward will create a more accountable state government so that even when our revenues grow back, we will not simply restore funding to the status quo, but instead, we’ll make investments that produce results.”
The Way Forward includes further developing LED’s recently launched priority initiatives, including:
- The Louisiana FastStart program—building on the expertise of national-caliber corporate training experts recruited from around the country, Louisiana FastStart is a first-class workforce solutions provider that executed more than a dozen pilot projects in 2009 involving more than 11,000 hours of training delivered to more than 1,000 trainees around Louisiana. FastStart shifted into full gear last year, when it was cited by Business Facilities in our 2010 State Rankings Report as the top workforce training program in the nation.
- BERG—Launched in 2009, the Business Expansion and Retention Group, partnered with local and regional economic development allies to visit nearly 500 companies, and secured a variety of significant retention and expansion wins, including the relocation of pump and compressor manufacturer Gardner Denver from Wisconsin to Louisiana.
- The Louisiana Development-Ready Communities Program—enabling 12 communities (Arcadia; Crowley; DeRidder; Houma; Jena; Mansfield with Grand Cane, Logansport and Stonewall; New Iberia; Pineville; Slidell; Vivian; West Monroe; and Zachary) to complete an intensive six-month process to position themselves to more effectively compete with out-of-state communities for good jobs and business investment.
Also emphasized is The Blue Ocean target industry initiative. The Blue Ocean is a strategy project designed to identify the state’s best narrowly defined growth industries of the future, including:
- Digital media/software development (including selected segments within healthcare IT, education IT, video-game development and eReaders)
- Next-generation automotive manufacturing (e.g., electric vehicles, composites manufacturing)
- Specialty healthcare (medical corridors, obesity/diabetes research and treatment, pharmaceutical manufacturing)
- Renewables and energy efficiency (green building/manufacturing, hydropower, algae-based energy production, nuclear power module manufacturing)
- Water management (developing world-class water management industry, e.g., becoming the Netherlands of the U.S.)
- Next wave oil and gas (ultra deep water oil, unconventional natural gas, enhanced oil recovery)
“There is no longer a placeholder for Louisiana at the bottom of the major economic and business climate rankings,” says Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret. “The positive national recognition Louisiana has received since 2008 is a strong indicator that our economy has performed better than the South and U.S. during the recession. This consistent recognition also demonstrates that we are taking the right steps to grow our economy, create better job opportunities and position our state for long-term economic growth."