News

08.03.16

Seven Years In A Row: LED FastStart Ranks As Nation’s No. 1 State Workforce Program

Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Shreveport also honored in Business Facilities 2016 Rankings Report

BATON ROUGE, La. — Today, Business Facilities ranked LED FastStart® as the nation’s No. 1 state workforce training program for a record seven years in a row. In the magazine’s 2016 State Rankings Report, Louisiana also earned Top 10 rankings in infrastructure, international commerce and utility costs, while Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Shreveport received Top 10 honors in entrepreneurial leadership, quality of life, competitive business costs and other categories.

Describing LED FastStart as the gold standard for workforce training programs, Business Facilities has judged the Louisiana program as the best offering from any state for the seventh year in a row, extending a streak that begin in 2010. For expanding companies in target industries, FastStart tailors comprehensive recruiting, screening, training and orientation solutions that enable a company’s new employees to be fully prepared for the launch of new operations from day one. 

“Throughout our history, employers have recognized Louisiana for the great work ethic and skill of our people,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “The can-do attitude of Louisianans remains more true today than ever before, but we also live in a world where workforce demands are growing and the competition for jobs has never been greater. By collaborating with our state workforce and education partners, LED FastStart provides the best competitive edge in the U.S. for companies who are expanding their operations. We’re extremely proud of FastStart’s accomplishments and of the leadership our cities and state are demonstrating in so many categories recognized by Business Facilities.”

In addition to ranking LED FastStart No. 1 in the Workforce Training Leaders category, the magazine ranked Louisiana No. 3 for Best Infrastructure, No. 6 for Lowest Industrial Electricity Rates, No. 9 among Export Leaders and No. 10 for Foreign Direct Investment Leaders. Additionally, the 2016 Rankings Report placed New Orleans No. 2 among Entrepreneurship Leaders, No. 2 among Logistics Leaders, No. 2 for Lowest Cost of Business, and No. 8 for Installed Solar Power Capacity. Baton Rouge ranked No. 1 in the nation for Lowest Cost of Business and No. 4 for Quality of Life, while Shreveport ranked No. 5 among Entrepreneurship Leaders. 

In the workforce category, LED FastStart has served more than 150 expanding companies in Louisiana and provided over 337,000 hours of training to more than 23,800 individual employees since 2008. To be eligible, companies must create at least 15 net new jobs in manufacturing and 50 net new jobs in service industries. Housed within Louisiana Economic Development, FastStart services are provided at no cost to companies that meet those criteria in target industries, such as manufacturing, software and digital media, headquarters and corporate business operations, research and development, and warehousing and distribution.

LED’s innovative FastStart program remains the gold standard for workforce training initiatives, said Editor in Chief Jack Rogers of Business Facilities.

“It’s getting harder to rank the leaders in workforce training because so many states have finally gotten the message that workforce development is Job One in the U.S.,” Rogers noted. “A majority of states are aggressively acting to close the critical gap in skilled workers.”

The magazine’s editor said the best practices for maximizing higher education resources – and bringing them to the table with businesses to ensure the availability of a highly skilled workforce – still can be found where the nation’s most innovative workforce training program started.

“Louisiana’s FastStart is the best, and the best thing about it is that it keeps getting better,” Rogers said.

To identify the best talent for employers, LED FastStart works intelligently to understand the culture of its clients and the unique needs of their expansion or relocation project. From that analysis, FastStart professionals devise a custom workforce plan to attract, evaluate and train employees who are the best fit. Jeff Lynn, who launched LED FastStart for Louisiana in 2008, is LED’s executive director of workforce development programs. FastStart clients, he said, are continually surprised at the speed with which his organization operates.

“We truly run our organization at the speed of business, if not faster,” Lynn said. “At the same time, our team of experts closely listens to and assesses the training needs of each company. We know that each employer is different and requires workforce solutions customized for a unique timeline, proprietary processes and specific performance results. To help our clients deliver on those objectives, we provide turnkey solutions on technology platforms that make the best possible use of everyone’s time. Like our clients, we learn from every assignment and get better every day at what we do. I’m so excited about the Business Facilities ranking because it honors the tremendous team we have at LED FastStart and shows what can be accomplished when you’re truly committed to your work and enjoy what you do.”

For LED FastStart, the latest 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].”

“FastStart is a phenomenal program that is driving growth in Louisiana’s new and existing advanced manufacturing industries, as well as other growth sectors,” LED Secretary Don Pierson said. “We’re attracting next-generation jobs across the state because of this competitive advantage. In the process, we’re improving the access of minority- and women-owned firms to procurement opportunities with large industries; we’re increasing job opportunities in rural areas through FastStart’s work with community and technical colleges; and we’re creating innovative ways every day to train Louisiana workers in technologies that enhance their careers.”

Business Facilities has been a leading source of intelligence on corporate expansion and relocation projects since 1968. For more on the magazine’s 12th Annual Rankings Report, visit businessfacilities.com.