Southern Business & Development: Louisiana Earns State of the Year Again

For the third straight year, Southern Business & Development magazine recognized Louisiana as State of the Year in the South, but in 2011 Louisiana stands alone as State of the Year after tying Tennessee in each of the two prior years.

The good news comes after SB & D named three Louisiana cities, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Lafayette, to its list of the Top Ten Cities For Digital Media.

Louisiana established a record-high score in the 2011 State of the Year rankings published by the Birmingham, Ala.-based magazine.  With 115.4 points per million residents, Louisiana easily outdistanced second-place Kansas (59.6) and third-place North Carolina (51.9). Tennessee fell to fourth place (49.6) among the 17 Southern states.

Gov. Bobby Jindal said, “Since day one we’ve made economic development our top priority, and this honor shows that our work to grow the economy and create jobs for Louisianians is paying off.  Over the past three and a half years, we have announced economic development wins that will result in more than 42,000 new jobs and more than $9 billion in new capital investment, and we have moved up significantly in virtually every national ranking of states for economic development or business climate.  This is certainly great news and we’ve made incredible progress, but we have a lot more work to do so that all of our sons and daughters can pursue their dreams right here at home.”

Several Louisiana communities also earned SB&D honors.  New Orleans tied Charlotte, N.C., for Major Market of the Year; Lake Charles won the Mid-Market of the Year honor; and St. James Parish drew a Special Recognition award from the magazine as the parish or county within a metro area that generated the most impressive job-creation results across the South.  The Nucor Corp. steel mill project in St. James Parish tied the Austal USA shipbuilding expansion in Mobile, Ala., for Heavy Manufacturing Deal of the Year.

Also, Baton Rouge earned honorable mention recognition behind New Orleans and Charlotte in the Major Market of the Year category, and Monroe earned honorable mention recognition in the Small Market of the Year division.  States earn 5 to 10 points for each economic development project that will generate $30 million or more in capital investment and 5 to 10 points for each project that will result in 200 or more jobs. The maximum 10 points for jobs or capital investment (or both) is applied if the project in question is among the 100 largest in the South for jobs and/or capital investment.

Louisiana earned top honors with a wide variety of project announcements and expansions in 2010, such as Nucor’s new iron and steel production facility in St. James Parish, Globalstar Inc.’s relocation from Silicon Valley to St. Tammany Parish, P&G’s expansion in Rapides Parish, Chase’s processing center expansion in Monroe, the Blade Dynamics project at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, the expansion of Aeroframe Services in Lake Charles, the DG Foods project in Bastrop and others.

“By any reasonable measure, Louisiana’s economy has outperformed the South and U.S. since January 2008,” said Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret. “With the best state workforce training program in the U.S., Louisiana FastStart, as well as the most improved business climate of any state in the U.S., Louisiana is quickly becoming the new economic powerhouse of the South. We are very honored to receive this recognition, and we are especially pleased that leading companies like Nucor, Electronic Arts, ConAgra Foods, Gardner Denver, P&G, CenturyLink, Albemarle and many others have made decisions to invest billions of dollars and create thousands of new jobs in Louisiana.”