Today, Southern Business & Development magazine ranked Louisiana No. 2 for securing the best economic development performance in the South on a per capita basis. This is the 11th year in a row that Louisiana has ranked either No. 1 or No. 2 in the highly competitive category within the magazine’s annual SB&D 100 Top Deals and Hot Markets issue.
The magazine tracked the most significant capital investment and job-creation projects across the South, with states earning points for large employment projects and large capital-investment projects attracted during 2018. Louisiana earned 73.4 points-per-million, outperforming third-place Kentucky (70.0), fourth-place South Carolina (50.1) and fifth-place Mississippi (50.0). Only Alabama, at 79.7 points, performed at a higher level to earn State of the Year honors.
“The Southern Business & Development rankings confirm our success in creating great economic opportunity for the people of Louisiana,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “By forming strategic public-private partnerships, by harnessing the capacity of our higher education systems, and by expanding training opportunities throughout our state, Louisiana is a trailblazer in the South for innovation and economic growth. I’m proud that we continue to attract leading employers, and I’m truly excited about the new career options and quality of life that we’re delivering in Louisiana today.”
In a record performance, Lake Charles earned its ninth consecutive Small Market of the Year honor for best economic development performance in cities of 50,000 to 250,000 people. New Orleans tied Nashville at No. 1 for Major Market of the Year among cities with 750,000 to 2.5 million people. Baton Rouge finished No. 3 in the Major Market category, ahead of Austin, Texas, and Louisville, Kentucky.
For State of the Year, Louisiana had the highest score among Honorable Mention states, which also included Kentucky, South Carolina, Mississippi and Virginia. As the state’s economic development agency, Louisiana Economic Development has guided efforts placing Louisiana as the only Southern state to rank in the Top 2 in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.
“We are exceedingly proud of this accomplishment and our repeat performance of excellence as a state agency,” LED Secretary Don Pierson said. “This third-party validation of LED’s success communicates to our citizens and businesses, large and small, that Louisiana Economic Development is performing at an exceptional level. Our team includes talented project managers, effective marketing and communication personnel, community development experts and a strong cadre of personnel focused on supporting small businesses. Our nationally acclaimed workforce program – LED FastStart® – continues to support new and expanding industry. We have an Office of International Commerce that’s second-to-none in securing foreign direct investment for our state. Our legal department and fiscal division ensure strict accountability as we invest in public-private partnerships. Thanks to the strong support of our Governor, Legislature, other elected officials and economic development partners statewide, Louisiana is a leader among Southern states.”
Lake Charles easily secured the magazine’s designation as Small Market of the Year for the ninth consecutive year, outdistancing runners-up in Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama.
“The Lake Charles region has been a nationwide leader in the petrochemical and LNG industries for years; however, this latest run is unprecedented,” said SB&D Publisher Michael Randle. “Tens of billions of dollars have been invested in Southwest Louisiana in those nine years and the Lake Charles MSA has seen greater job growth than any market in America. The fracking frenzy has certainly benefited Southwest Louisiana’s economy in a grand way.”
George Swift, president and CEO of the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, said the region enjoys natural resource advantages, but also has capitalized on those resources in a strategic way.
“Our success is due to regional cooperation and collaboration,” Swift said. “The Calcasieu Ship Channel, our port network including the Port of Lake Charles and Cameron Parish Port, a robust pipeline network, strong support by area elected officials, McNeese State University and SOWELA Technical Community College, and leadership and strong incentives from the State of Louisiana are some of the reasons for the success of Southwest Louisiana. The exciting part is that our region is not even halfway through major projects and expansions. The future is very bright for economic and job growth.”
In the Major Market of the Year category (metros of 750,000 to 2.5 million), New Orleans ranked No. 1 in a tie with Nashville, at 135 points. Baton Rouge ranked right behind them at No. 3 with 125 points. States and markets earn 10 points for projects within the Top 100 list for most investment and jobs, and five points for qualifying projects below the Top 100.
Louisiana’s performance in 2018 included diverse sectors and statewide impact. Examples include:
Louisiana ranks among the leading business climates in multiple national rankings. The latest recognition by Southern Business & Development joins other economic development honors and recognition for the state, including a Top 10 business climate ranking for the ninth consecutive year by Site Selection magazine, a Top 10 ranking from Area Development magazine for the eighth straight year, and a No. 1 ranking for best state workforce training program from Business Facilities magazine for the ninth straight year. For more about the SB&D 100 report in Southern Business & Development, visit SB-D.com.