Louisiana has scored nearly 100 economic development wins since 2016, creating more than 25,000 new jobs and representing more than $26 billion in capital investment for the state, says Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson.
Speaking at the American Council of Engineering Companies of Louisiana’s Project Outlook event this afternoon, Pierson touted those wins as evidence of the state’s vibrant and growing economy and of the success of its support organizations, such as LED, whose goal is to attract and sustain business in the state.
“We are hard at work creating more work for you,” Pierson said to the audience of engineering firms at the Renaissance Hotel.
He highlighted current and planned infrastructure improvements across the state, including the Interstate 10 widening in Baton Rouge and expansions at the Lafayette and New Orleans airports, while also championing new developments in the entertainment and IT sector, such as tech giant CGI in Lafayette adding 400 new jobs and the DXC Technology center bringing 2,000 jobs to New Orleans.
While the state has long been supported by its massive agriculture and oil and gas industries, Pierson also called to attention to other bright spots of Louisiana’s economy, such as manufacturing, entertainment productions, foreign direct investments and, of course, the burgeoning tech sector.
“A robust IT sector is critically important to future of our state,” Pierson says. “We want to look over the horizon and make sure we aren’t getting left behind in the global economy.”
LED is predicting a bright future for the state economy. Pierson says there are currently 79 projects in the business development pipeline, which represent $4.9 billion in investments and nearly 4,000 new direct jobs. On top of that, 67 expansion and retention projects are in the works across the state.
Pierson also touted the many business support services and programs that LED offers, such as the FastStart program, which has been named Business Facilities No. 1 workforce training program in the nation for nine consecutive years.
The LED secretary defended the tax incentive programs it offers businesses, which critics often call “corporate welfare.” Detractors often don’t look at the entire picture when assessing the benefits of economic development projects, Pierson says, and don’t realize these programs are needed to compete for those projects.
“These dollars will go to other states,” Pierson says. “In order for them to be here, we have to step up and provide better opportunities than others do.”