BATON ROUGE, La. — Today, Business Facilities ranked LED FastStart® – Louisiana’s customized workforce development program, created in 2008 – No. 1 for state workforce programs for an unprecedented sixth year in a row. Louisiana continued its strong performance in the magazine’s annual rankings report, making the Top 10 in seven categories of economic competitiveness. In addition, the publication ranked Louisiana as the No. 3 business climate in the U.S. after it topped that national ranking last year. Louisiana has placed among the Top 5 U.S. business climates for four consecutive years and has ranked in the Top 10 for six consecutive years.
The rankings are part of the Business Facilities 2015 State Rankings Report issued annually to gauge the competitiveness of state economic development programs and performance across the nation. Five Top 5 ratings contributed to Louisiana’s strong showing, including a No. 3 ranking for high-wage manufacturing leaders, a new category added to the report this year. The state posted gains in the categories of best infrastructure (No. 4) and lowest industrial electricity rate (No. 7), as well as strong performances in economic growth potential (No. 4) and export leaders (No. 6).
Gov. Bobby Jindal said, “The improvement in Louisiana’s business climate has been a key to our success in economic development since we took office in 2008. We have built on that foundation to attract world-class capital investment and job-creation prospects like never before. It’s gratifying to see our hard work and tangible success recognized by Business Facilities, one of the leading U.S. economic development publications for more than four decades. With seven Top 10 rankings for economic competitiveness, Louisiana has become a top-tier destination for domestic and foreign economic development projects, and that results in quality jobs and great careers for Louisiana residents. We are succeeding in our goal of making Louisiana the best place in the world to live, work and raise a family.”
For LED FastStart, the sixth consecutive No. 1 ranking by Business Facilities caps a mounting series of accolades. In 2010, Area Development magazine recognized LED FastStart as one of three elite workforce programs in the South (along with Alabama and Georgia). In 2011, The Economist called FastStart “probably the most notable statewide workforce-development initiative [in the United States].”
“It is a great honor to receive this recognition,” said LED Executive Director of Workforce Development Programs Jeff Lynn. “Being named the No. 1 state workforce training program in the U.S. for six years in a row is a tribute to the members of our LED FastStart team, who maintain a strong passion for growing Louisiana’s economy daily. Our success is a direct result of their dedication to creating world-class, customized workforce recruitment and training solutions for our new and expanding clients.”
Workforce success has been a key for Louisiana’s strong showing, with Business Facilities Editor in Chief Jack Rogers writing in 2012 that “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. Businesses relocating to Louisiana can be certain they will have strong support from the state in acquiring and training skilled workers.”
In the 2015 Business Facilities State Rankings Report, the magazine again recognized the significance of Louisiana’s top performance in the workforce-training category.
“Many states now have recognized that workforce training is priority No. 1 in economic development,” Rogers said. “Louisiana’s FastStart sets the bar very high for best practices in this critical requirement for business expansion.”
In 2008, Louisiana registered a single Top 10 ranking in the Business Facilities report (No. 3 for manufacturing momentum). By 2010, the state recorded three Top 10 rankings, including its first No. 1 ranking for LED FastStart, and its performance has continued to improve in the years that followed.
Since 2008, LED has secured economic development projects that are creating more than 91,000 new jobs and more than $62 billion in new capital investment, along with hundreds of millions of dollars in new sales for small businesses throughout the state.
In 2014 alone, Louisiana attracted a wide variety of major project wins, including CSC’s 800-job technology center in Bossier City, Cheniere Energy’s $6 billion expansion of its LNG project in Cameron Parish, Venture Global’s $4.25 billion LNG complex at Cameron, CGI’s 400-job technology center in Lafayette, and Yuhuang Chemical’s 400-job, $1.8 billion methanol plant in St. James Parish. Those projects joined other recent significant investments by such global companies as Sasol, Benteler, IBM, CF Industries, Bell Helicopter, Chiquita Brands and P&G to generate an unprecedented level of business investment interest in Louisiana.
Louisiana now places higher in all national business climate rankings than it ever did prior to 2008. In five national business climate rankings – those published by Area Development, Business Facilities, Chief Executive, Site Selection and international location marketing firm DCI – Louisiana now ranks among the Top 10 states in the U.S. Site Selection named LED the best-performing state economic development agency in the nation in 2011 and No. 2 in the nation in 2015, and Pollina Corporate Real Estate ranked LED tied for the best-performing state economic development agency in the nation in 2013.
Business Facilities has been a leading source of intelligence on corporate expansion and relocation projects since 1968. For more on the 2015 State Rankings Report, visit businessfacilities.com.