Acadiana Business

Louisiana still topping South in economic development

by Heather Miller

Southern Business and Development magazine says Louisiana outranks 16 other Southern states for its third consecutive title of No. 1 for new jobs and investment.

Louisiana has set a new record in the South for the number of economic development projects taking place across the state, as evidenced by its third consecutive State of the Year title in Southern Business and Developement's 100 issue.

According to a release from the Louisiana Economic Development office, the Birmingham, Ala., based magazine's annual 100 publication grades Southern states' track record of new jobs based on a point system that reflects the top 100 new projects of the year, those that created the most jobs across the region.

"By any reasonable measure, Louisiana's economy has outperformed the South and U.S. since January 2008," Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret says in the release.

The state's score almost doubled that of Kentucky, which ranked second, followed by North Carolina and Tennessee:

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.

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.

The Top 100 economic development projects across the South in 2010 are estimated to produce 83,739 jobs -- the most in five years but far below the 136,442 jobs posted in the 1996 calendar year. The magazine began the rankings in 1994.

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.