BATON ROUGE, La. — Today, Secretary Don Pierson of Louisiana Economic Development is participating in a panel discussion at the White House, where federal, state and private-sector economic development professionals are sharing best practices for trade, manufacturing, workforce development, infrastructure and economic opportunity. On Friday, Pierson will participate in a separate roundtable discussion on expanding economic opportunity that will be conducted by the International Economic Development Council.
The IEDC, a 5,000-member nonprofit serving economic developers, is sponsoring today’s White House forum along with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s SelectUSA program and the National Economic Council, which advises President Obama on U.S. and global economic policy. Economists and administrators from the Commerce Department, Treasury Department, Labor Department, the Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency and the White House are convening with Pierson and other state and private-sector economic development leaders at the forum.
“The White House Forum on Economic Development represents a rare opportunity for our state and for me as an economic development practitioner,” Secretary Pierson said. “Through a robust exchange of ideas in moderated discussions, we’re learning about economic trends, challenges and opportunities at the highest level; we’re connecting with top professionals about solutions; and I’m gaining an opportunity to share Louisiana’s economic development experience throughout all of these discussions, which is invaluable.”
In addition to a comprehensive outlook for the economy, today’s forum delves into the connections between manufacturing and workforce development, the resources required for attracting foreign direct investment, and the importance of sound policy for infrastructure investments. A final topic explores how federal agencies and economic developers can extend economic success to citizens in every neighborhood, particularly areas with lower income and educational attainment.
Joining Pierson and other IEDC members for the Economic Opportunity Roundtable on Friday will be research and policy leaders from the Brookings Institution, the Aspen Institute and the Economic Innovation Group, which promotes policies for revitalizing distressed communities and for building entrepreneurship through private investment.
“Expanding economic opportunity is a priority we live out each and every day at Louisiana Economic Development,” Pierson said. “We have many programs in place – including partnerships with federal, regional and local agencies – that are helping startups, small businesses, and women- and minority-owned businesses find new procurement, construction and customer opportunities throughout Louisiana and through out-of-state sales that bring new income to Louisiana. While working hard each day to help our large and mid-sized employers succeed, we recognize that a thriving small business sector is just as important to our long-term success.
“Both the White House forum and the roundtable offer great access to the best current thinking on all economic development topics. We’re particularly excited about the involvement of the Department of Commerce and its SelectUSA program, which is placing a greater emphasis on bringing foreign direct investment opportunities to the U.S. Through our Office of International Commerce, LED is a leader in the FDI category, and we’re eager to improve our performance by engaging more international investors, such as BASF, Benteler, Formosa Petrochemical, Gameloft, Incitec Pivot Limited, Sasol, Shell, Shintech, SNF Floerger and others who have invested in our state.”
In addition to Louisiana’s success with LED’s Small Business Services and International Commerce, Pierson is sharing the state’s workforce development achievements. An 8-year-old program, LED FastStart® has ranked as the No. 1 state workforce training program in the U.S. for six consecutive years by helping expanding employers in the state rapidly ramp-up project staff through highly customized recruitment, screening, training and orientation programs. More than 23,000 individuals have secured new or enhanced career opportunities through LED FastStart.
The department’s online job-matching program, LouisianaJobConnection.com
, grew out of LED FastStart and has attracted more than 65,000 registered job seekers and more than 2.5 million potential job matches with Louisiana-based employers since its rollout less than two years ago.
Seven years after beginning a rigorous program to certify business and industry sites, LED’s Certified Sites program now ranks third among all U.S. states for offering the most development-ready sites. Originally conceived for sites of 25 or more acres, LED now is introducing an option to certify sites of 10 acres to 25 acres to increase the inventory of business park sites, particularly in smaller communities.
“One of our most successful strategies has been to increase the competitiveness of our communities throughout the state,” Pierson said. “Whether that’s leadership programs that prepare our government officials and community volunteers, or certification of more shovel-ready sites for new projects, or enhanced workforce programs with our community and technical colleges – our goal is to expand economic opportunity to our citizens every day and to do it on a statewide basis.”