Louisiana’s Business Climate Soars

Louisiana has climbed substantially in major U.S. business climate rankings, with the state now placing higher in every national ranking than it ever did prior to 2008.

Respected third-party evaluators have noted Louisiana gains in areas such as workforce training, incentives, speed of permitting, shovel-ready sites, labor costs, corporate taxes and transportation infrastructure.

In national business climate rankings published by Area Development, Business Facilities, Chief Executive, Site Selection and the international location marketing firm DCI, Louisiana now ranks among the Top 10 states for business in the U.S.

In 2015, Business Facilities magazine ranked LED FastStart® the No. 1 state workforce-training program for the sixth consecutive year. The same publication ranked Louisiana the No. 3 business climate in the nation, marking the sixth year in a row the state has hit the Top 10, including a No. 1 ranking in 2014.

Also in 2015, Louisiana earned its fifth consecutive Top 10 ranking in Area Development magazine’s annual Top States for Doing Business report, placing No. 8 overall.

Site Selection ranked Louisiana No. 4 in the magazine’s 2015 Top State Business Climate Rankings, marking the sixth year in a row that Louisiana earned a Top 10 spot in that publication. The ranking weighs survey results from site selectors, based on their experience in locating facilities in a given state, and considers a state’s recent track record in attracting expansion and relocation projects, along with tax burdens encountered by companies operating in the state.

In 2015, only Louisiana — among all 50 states — placed in the Top 10 of at least seven major Site Selection ranking categories.

In Chief Executive magazine’s annual survey of CEOs, Louisiana rose to No. 7 in the 2015 Best & Worst States for Business, up two spots from 2014 and Louisiana’s best ranking ever by Chief Executive. The survey asked 650 business leaders to evaluate states on several issues, including tax and regulation, quality of workforce and quality of life.

Chief Executive noted, “During 2015, Louisiana showed strong improvement in attracting and retaining technology businesses, while also benefitting from a downstream position in oil and gas. CEOs are pleased with the Southeastern state’s industrial incentives, cheap energy and nonunion workforce.”

Louisiana’s reputation for business friendliness isn’t limited to global industry and tech firms. The state’s small business climate also stands out. In an annual survey of small businesses conducted by and the Kauffman Foundation, Louisiana earned an ‘A’ grade in 2015 for small business friendliness, and ranked No. 4 in the nation for its supportive small business environment.

Louisiana is especially noteworthy for its rapid business climate ascent. In six years, Louisiana jumped from No. 25 to No. 4 in the Site Selection business climate ranking. And since January 2008, Louisiana has improved a nation-best 40 spots in the Chief Executive ranking.

The state’s economic development strategy has included targeted, customizable incentives as well as policy initiatives that have created a thriving business environment. The proof is in the numbers. Louisiana’s economic development wins since 2008 are resulting in more than 91,000 new jobs, more than $62 billion in new capital investment and hundreds of millions of dollars in new sales for small businesses statewide.

Corporate executives acknowledge that top rankings strengthen Louisiana’s position in site selection competitions. Louisiana’s upward trajectory provides a positive backdrop for many investors choosing to expand or relocate in the state: Benteler Steel/Tube evaluated more than a dozen states and 100 sites before selecting Shreveport, Louisiana, for a $975 million investment; CSC weighed 134 sites around the U.S. before choosing Bossier City for an 800-job technology center; and GE Capital chose New Orleans over more than 100 other cities for its 300-job technology center.

“I think improvement in these kind of rankings gives you confidence that the local economy is in strong shape,” said Mike De Boer, chief information officer for GE Capital’s New Orleans site. “These improvements are important in the sense that they create not only positive messages, but they influence and shape decisions.”