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Louisiana’s business climate ranks first in nation

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Business Facilities magazine has named Louisiana the No. 1 business climate in the U.S., the first time Louisiana has topped a national ranking of state business climates.

In addition, LED FastStart® – Louisiana’s customized workforce development program, created in 2008 – earned the No. 1 ranking for state workforce programs from Business Facilities for an unprecedented fifth year in a row.

The rankings are part of the Business Facilities 2014 State Rankings Report issued annually to gauge the competitiveness of state economic development programs and economic indicators across the nation. Louisiana also posted strong performances in a number of other categories, including: No. 2 for exports leaders; No. 3 for economic growth potential; No. 5 for best infrastructure; No. 8 for lowest industrial electricity rates; and No. 10 among state employment leaders.

“Prosperity begins with a quality job, and today there are more people working in Louisiana than ever before. When we took office in 2008, we sent a strong message to the world about our intention to make Louisiana the next frontier for business opportunity. Now, with the No. 1 business climate in the entire country, we know we are well on our way to accomplishing our ultimate goal of ensuring that every family in Louisiana has access to great career opportunities, just as we have worked tirelessly to ensure that every child in Louisiana can get a great education,” said Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Louisiana’s ascent in the best business climate category has been continuous in recent years, from an initial appearance in the Top 10 at No. 8 in 2010, to No. 7 in 2011, No. 5 in 2012 and No. 4 last year. For LED FastStart, the fifth consecutive 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].”

“This recognition from Business Facilities, one of the leading economic development publications for more than four decades, is proof of the remarkable turnaround that has occurred in Louisiana,” Jindal added.

This year, Louisiana continued its streak of economic successes in the magazine’s 10th annual rankings issue. In 2008, Louisiana registered a single Top 10 ranking in the Business Facilities report (No. 3 for manufacturing momentum). By 2010, the state recorded three Top 10 rankings, including its first No. 1 ranking for LED FastStart. By 2012, Louisiana had earned seven Top 10 rankings, followed by seven Top 10 rankings again in 2013, and nine Top 10 rankings this year.

A constant for Louisiana has been its workforce success, with Business Facilities Editor in Chief Jack Rogers writing in 2012 that “Louisiana’s (LED) FastStart continues to be the gold standard for workforce training programs, which increasingly are an essential element in successful economic development projects. Businesses relocating to Louisiana can be certain they will have strong support from the state in acquiring and training skilled workers.”

In the 2014 Business Facilities Rankings Report, the magazine commented on Louisiana’s first-place ranking in the Best Business Climate category: “Pick a successful growth strategy other states are starting to replicate, and you’ll discover that Louisiana has made it work on a grand scale. Nowhere is this more evident than in the unprecedented cooperation between higher education resources and business in Louisiana.”

Since 2008, LED has secured economic development projects that are creating more than 83,000 new direct and indirect jobs and more than $54 billion in new capital investment, along with hundreds of millions of dollars in new sales for Louisiana’s small businesses.

Major projects from leading digital media/technology companies – including IBM, CenturyLink, CSC, GE Capital, CGI, Gameloft and EA – are joining significant investments by such global companies as Sasol Ltd., Cheniere Energy, BASF, Dow, Benteler, and others to generate an unprecedented level of business investment in Louisiana.

The state’s No. 1 Business Facilities ranking continues a trend of rising business climate rankings since 2008. Louisiana now ranks higher in every national business-climate ranking than it ever did prior to 2008, including those published by Area Development, Beacon Hill Institute, Business Facilities, Chief Executive, CNBC, Forbes, Pollina Corporate Real Estate and Site Selection. In four national business climate rankings – Area Development, Business Facilities, Chief Executive and Site Selection – Louisiana now ranks among the Top 10 states in the U.S.

Business Facilities has been a leading source of intelligence on corporate expansion and relocation projects since 1968. For more on the 2014 Rankings Report, visit businessfacilities.com.