Aerospace Solutions Built to Spec
Louisiana’s aerospace sector is thriving and poised for expansion, thanks to the state’s unique combination of business advantages: superior infrastructure and logistics, abundant sites, expedited permitting, competitive incentives, the best customized workforce development program in the country and an established advanced manufacturing talent pipeline sustained by higher education partnerships.
Industry-recognized aerospace and aviation companies such as Arrow Aviation and Metro Aviation started in Louisiana while globally recognized companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Western Global Airlines have established operations in Louisiana and are benefiting from the state’s unique advantages.
The U.S. aerospace sector is considered the largest in the world and is one of the main suppliers of both military and civil aerospace hardware to the rest of the world. Aviation is one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States, and it has increased yearly at the rate of at least 14% despite challenges faced by the industry in recent years. The industry is also a world leader in advancing science and technology. Aerospace systems have a very high value per unit weight and are among the most complex, as measured by the number of components in finished products.
Propelled by a Customized Workforce
Manufacturers can benefit from Louisiana’s sizeable available workforce and status as a right-to-work state. Currently more than 430,000 workers in Louisiana are employed in occupations relevant to manufacturing, according to Economic Modeling Specialists Inc.
New investors in the state can be sure of Louisiana’s continued workforce investment as the state continues to make strategic investments in higher education designed to meet the needs of industry. The majority of the state’s research universities have institutes, programs of study and/or centers specializing in manufacturing focus areas.
- The National Center for Advanced Manufacturing, under the leadership of LSU and the University of New Orleans, leads a consortium of seven universities that conducts research focused on using composite and metallic materials in support of NASA and the aerospace industry.
- The Aerospace Manufacturing Technology Program at Nunez Community College was established with the support of industry to provide a foundation in aerospace manufacturing. The Nunez program was developed with more than $2 million in funding from LED and the Louisiana Community and Technical College System and program implementation expertise from LED FastStart, which determined what types of equipment, tooling, facilities, skills and curriculum were needed by industry. The only program of its kind in Louisiana, the Nunez curriculum was designed to meet Boeing’s needs in rocket construction at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans for NASA’s next missions to the moon and Mars.
“NASA has been manufacturing state-of-the-art space flight hardware at the Michoud Assembly Facility in Louisiana for over 60 years. From the early days of the Saturn Rocket that powered the Apollo Program to the External Tank for the Space Shuttle, the capable workforce at Michoud has enabled human space exploration. Today at Michoud, we are manufacturing the Space Launch System (SLS) Rocket and Orion Crew Module that will take the first woman and next man to the moon as part of the Artemis Program. Michoud continues to be an economic driver for the state, supporting more than 5,000 jobs nationally, yielding a total economic output of $875 million. That success can be attributed to our employees whose resiliency and dedication keeps Michoud energized.”
Lionel "Lonnie" Dutreix
NASA Michoud Assembly Facility
- Four airframe and powerplant (A&P) schools provide training for the aviation maintenance technician career field: Baton Rouge Community College, South Louisiana Community College, Southern University at Shreveport and SOWELA Technical Community College.
- Louisiana Economic Development partnered with the Louisiana Community and Technical College System to install 12 5-axis CNC machining centers with instructors at 12 LCTCS campuses in an effort to increase the number of 5-axis machinists in Louisiana.
In all, Louisiana graduates more than 22,000 people per year with credentials relevant to the manufacturing industry, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Additional centers providing innovative partnerships and growth opportunities include:
- Louisiana Center for Manufacturing Sciences, Shreveport.
- Center for Lean Excellence, New Orleans.
- Manufacturing Extension Partnership, Lafayette.
LED FastStart Delivers Workforce Solutions
LED FastStart, the nation’s No. 1 state workforce development program, creates customized workforce recruitment, screening and training solutions for new or expanding companies — at no cost to eligible companies. LED FastStart team members have developed and managed hundreds of customized workforce training programs for a wide variety of companies across multiple industry sectors, including Fortune 500 companies. They have experience working with aerospace companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.
With only one goal — client satisfaction — LED FastStart pairs its world-class team with a company’s subject matter experts to learn the company’s unique processes and culture. After determining the competencies that match the cultural and technical abilities that will help define the most successful employee, the LED FastStart team employs traditional and innovative methods to recruit qualified talent that matches the company’s specific requirements.
Based on a company’s immediate and long-term workforce needs, the LED FastStart team will craft unique programs that ensure high-quality, flexible workers are prepared on day one and beyond. Technical, team-based and soft-skills training programs are sequenced and delivered to engage new employees. LED FastStart helps improve learning curves, and increases a company’s productivity, resulting in a faster start and a better bottom line. Post-employment classes are strategically developed and sequenced to orient new team members into a company’s organization. LED FastStart’s world-class training adds value to every level of a company.
Louisiana Incentives Push Aerospace to New Heights
Aerospace manufacturers will find a suite of highly competitive incentives designed to help their operations thrive in Louisiana.
- Louisiana offers the Industrial Tax Exemption Program, which provides an 80% property tax abatement for an initial term of five years and the option to renew for five additional years at 80% on a manufacturer’s qualifying capital investment related to the manufacturing process.
- Louisiana offers manufacturers and qualifying companies the Quality Jobs program, which provides up to a 6% cash rebate of annual gross payroll for new, direct jobs for an initial term of five years and the option to renew for five additional years. This incentive provides either a state sales/use rebate on capital expenditures or a 1.5% project facility expense rebate for qualified expenses.
- The Enterprise Zone program provides either a $3,500 or $1,000 tax credit for each certified net new job created and either a state sales/use tax rebate on capital expenses or 1.5% investment tax credit for qualifying expenses. In lieu of the $3,500 or $1,000 tax credit, aviation and aerospace companies with NAICS Code 336411, 336412, 336413 and 332912 qualify for a $5,000 tax credit.
- The Research and Development Tax Credit provides up to a 30 percent tax credit on qualified research expenditures incurred in Louisiana by existing businesses with operating facilities in the state. There is no cap and no minimum requirement.
- In addition, the Digital Interactive Media and Software Development Incentive — the nation’s strongest, most comprehensive incentive for software development — provides a unique advantage to the aerospace industry. The incentive is applicable to customer-facing software, including aerospace-specific applications like navigation, communications, radar, defense and other embedded systems. Eligible projects receive a 25% refundable tax credit for payroll expenditures and an 18% refundable tax credit for qualified production expenditures.
Louisiana is Strategically Located to Launch Your Business
Well situated for both inbound and outbound logistics, Louisiana’s unrivaled infrastructure offers strategic advantages for the aerospace industry. The state is home to:
- Six interstate highways.
- Six Class 1 railroads.
- Six deep water ports including the Port of New Orleans.
- Eight Foreign Trade Zones with multiple subzones and six ports across the state offering foreign trade zone affiliation.
- Seven commercial service airports, two general aviation airports supporting the maintenance of commercial passenger, freighter or government aircraft, and four airports offering foreign trade zone affiliation.
When it comes time to find the best location for your operation, Louisiana has an extensive selection of development-ready sites searchable in its Buildings & Sites Database.
The LED Certified Sites program further qualifies industrial sites based on zoning restrictions, title work, environmental studies, soil analysis and surveys.
Available Airport Locations Offer Industrial Property
The state’s major airports offer industrial property with runway access, available to companies seeking to establish operations with enhanced ROI and lower costs. Selected examples include:
- Alexandria International Airport within England Airpark near Alexandria offers interstate, rail and inland port access as well as two runways and a 24-hour air traffic control tower and FBO. The site has no noise or operating restrictions. England Airpark has over 800 acres available for development including a 740-acre site adjacent to two active runways. Alexandria is home to a four-year university and a community and technical college.
- Baton Rouge Metro Airport has two runways and 18 acres of aircraft parking space available. With interstate, rail and deep-water port access, the facility also has a 95-acre certified greenfield site adjacent to two active runways that is available for future development. Baton Rouge is home to Louisiana State University, the state’s flagship university; Southern University, the main campus of the only HBCU system in the country; and a community and technical college.
- Shreveport Regional Airport has numerous sites that can be developed. The facility has two runways, over 270 acres of green field space available for development, a 24/7 control tower and fire station. The Shreveport Aeropark has more than 230 acres available with water, sewer, roadways, electric and natural gas already in place in addition to rail and port access. In addition, the airport’s second industrial park, the Warehouse District, has about 50 acres ready for development with infrastructure in place. In 2018 Western Global Airlines selected Shreveport Regional as the location for its aircraft maintenance facility. The City of Shreveport is also home to Metro Aviation. Shreveport is home to two four-year universities, a two-year university and a community and technical college.
- Acadiana Regional Airport (ARA) near New Iberia is home to Aviation Exteriors Louisiana (AvEx), a global leader in aviation exterior painting services for large-body aircraft, and is positioned in the heart of the Gulf of Mexico helicopter industry. The airport offers approximately 500 acres for development including one 64-acre parcel adjacent to the 8,000-foot runway and a second parcel of 170 acres with airfield access possible. ARA also possesses a unique 5,000-foot, lighted water runway for amphibious aircraft, and the airport is adjacent to a community and technical college and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s New Iberia Research Center. Neighboring communities are home to several helicopter maintenance facilities and helicopter transportation companies: PHI Group, Arrow Aviation, RLC as well as leading helicopter industry OEM support facilities for Bell Helicopter and Leonardo.
- Chennault International Airport in Lake Charles has a 10,700- by 200-foot runway capable of accommodating very large commercial aircraft and possesses over 1.5 million square feet of occupied hangar and building space with more than 500 acres available for lease — including certified sites. Chennault is home to several aviation tenants including defense contractor Northrop Grumman, which conducts depot maintenance and heavy maintenance on U.S. Air Force and federal government aircraft; Citadel Completions, which provides completion and MRO service for large private and commercial aircraft; and Landlocked Aviation Services, which provides paint services for commercial and military aircraft. Lake Charles is home to a four-year university and the local community and technical college is adjacent to Chennault.
- Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport is the state’s largest commercial airport in terms of enplanements and offers two runways of 10,104 feet and 7,001 feet in length. The recent opening of airport’s new terminal provides an opportunity to redevelop 24 acres of facility space occupied by the unused terminal. The New Orleans metropolitan area is home to Michoud Assembly Facility, NASA’s only campus dedicated to manned space program manufacturing, and the Port of New Orleans, which provides international intermodal freight connections. Also located in the New Orleans area are several four-year universities and multiple community and technical colleges.
- Monroe Regional Airport, in Monroe, offers four sites for development including parcels of 178 acres and 240 acres that border Kansas City Southern and Union Pacific railroad tracks, respectively, with the ability to access the airfield. The airport is in close proximity to a four-year university, a community and technical college and Interstate 20.
A Business Climate That Helps Companies Soar
At the core of Louisiana’s competitive advantages is the strength of its business climate.
Over the past decade, the state has enacted reforms to create an atmosphere that Forbes magazine once characterized as “America’s new frontier for business opportunity.” In 2021, the Tax Foundation lauded Louisiana’s legislature for driving “reforms that enhance simplicity, transparency, and neutrality in the tax code, while aligning it for growth.” That followed Southern Business & Development’s 2020 recognition of Louisiana as its State of the Year, reflecting the best economic development results in the South.
Forbes currently ranks Louisiana in the U.S. Top 10 for most-affordable business costs, and the trade publications Area Development and Site Selection both rank the state in the Top 15 for business climate. A major contributor: the state’s low industrial electricity rates, which are the second lowest in the country, according to a 2020 U.S. Energy Information Administration report. Louisiana’s industrial natural gas rates are also highly competitive: third lowest in the nation and more than 30% below the national average.
Louisiana: Aviation and Aerospace Opportunities