Making a diversified, growing Louisiana economy
Just over six years ago, I took office just as our country was entering one of the deepest national recessions in decades. Nevertheless, I was determined that we would position Louisiana to economically outperform the South and our nation.
We immediately got to work on strengthening governmental ethics laws, cutting taxes, revamping our workforce development programs, and reforming our education system so that we could create a competitive business climate. Thanks to these and other reforms, targeted state investments, and aggressive business development efforts, Louisiana now ranks higher in nearly every national business-climate ranking than it ever did prior to 2008.
In addition to enacting policy reforms to improve our state’s economic competitiveness, we’ve worked to support the retention and expansion of existing Louisiana companies while also aggressively recruiting new business investments to our state. Working collaboratively with local officials, we’ve helped secure economic-development projects that are resulting in more than 83,000 new direct and indirect jobs and $54 billion in capital investment.
Thanks in large part to our policy reforms and business development efforts, Louisiana has economically outperformed the South and U.S. since January 2008. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Louisiana’s private-sector job growth since January 2008 ranks second best in the South and sixth best in the U.S. At 4.5 percent, our unemployment rate is the lowest in the South; in fact, it has remained well below that of the South and U.S. every month since January 2008. Louisiana now has more people working and higher per-capita income levels than ever before. Additionally, the U.S. Census recently reported that after decades of out-migration, Louisiana has experienced six consecutive years of population in-migration, as more people have been moving into our state than leaving because of job opportunities available here.
Some of our biggest economic-development wins have been associated with manufacturing projects that are coming to the U.S. due to the national shale-gas revolution, as we’ve successfully competed against Texas and other states to attract tens of billions in capital investment and thousands of new jobs associated with ethane crackers, methanol production facilities, LNG export terminals, and gas-to-liquids (GTL) complexes. The emerging manufacturing investment boom will be the biggest in state history.
However, there’s much more to Louisiana’s new economic growth story, as we’ve also been working successfully to cultivate new growth industries, such as aerospace, water management, and software development, which can diversify our economy while accelerating our growth.
Since 2008, we’ve focused a great deal of attention on attracting more technology jobs to Louisiana. In particular, we’ve cultivated the software development and digital media sector, including aggressive national marketing, business recruitment, targeted incentives, and investments to expand computer-science programs at our universities.
We’ve committed $37.5 million over 10 years to at least triple the annual number of bachelor’s graduates in computer science at LSU, Louisiana Tech University, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and UNO. All of these universities will benefit from the engagement of top IT companies in the modernization of their curriculum, ensuring their graduates are prepared with cutting-edge knowledge to be successful in the marketplace.
Thanks in large part to these efforts, this sector has been one of the fastest growing industries in Louisiana, with an employment increase of approximately 24 percent since January 2008, according to BLS.
Additionally, leading tech companies like CGI, CenturyLink, CSC, EA, Gameloft, GE Capital, IBM, and others recently have announced major projects that collectively will create more than 4,500 new, direct tech jobs in our state – most of which will be filled in the next three years. Indeed, in our entire state’s history, there has never been a better time than today for our college graduates to secure high–tech jobs right here at home.
Not only has Louisiana economically outperformed the nation since January 2008, but we are also positioning our state to continue to do so in a diversified fashion in the future. The best is yet to come; economists predict the next few years will bring unprecedented investment and job growth. However, we will continue to work hard every day to make Louisiana the best place to raise a family and get a job, so that our children and grandchildren can pursue their dreams right here in Louisiana.
Gov. Bobby Jindal is Governor of Louisiana