OPINION: Governor Jindal: Our #1 Mission is Jobs
Editors note: The following is an opinion column from Governor Bobby Jindal.
December 29, 2009
When I took office, I said we would work together to create a New Louisiana – a place where our children can get a great education, pursue rewarding careers and raise their kids right here at home. Instead of Louisiana losing its young people to Texas and Georgia each year, we would become the state where not only our own businesses expand and create jobs, but others come here seeking opportunities as well. Over the last two years we have made tremendous progress on that critical top mission of fostering greater economic growth to create jobs.
Continuing the trend we began in 2008, Louisiana’s economy once again outperformed the South and the nation in 2009. Louisiana’s unemployment rate has remained well below the Southern and the national rates since the beginning of the national recession. In November, Louisiana’s unemployment rate was 6.7 percent – the second lowest in the South and the ninth lowest in the nation.
Additionally, recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that Louisiana experienced its third consecutive year of more people moving into the state than moving out. This follows more than two decades of outmigration. This good news followed data from United Van Lines showing Louisiana ranked second best in the South when comparing their inbound to outbound shipments.
Louisiana continues attracting new business investments and expanding existing companies even in this challenging national economy. For example, Gardner Denver is relocating its Sheboygan, Wis. manufacturing operations to Monroe, retaining 65 existing jobs and adding at least 200 more jobs. The new ConAgra Foods processing facility will create 500 to 600 direct jobs in northeast Louisiana and up to $256 million in new investment. Barksdale Air Force Base will become home to the new U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command, resulting in thousands of new jobs for northwest Louisiana.
V-Vehicle Company’s new auto assembly facility will create more than 1,400 jobs in Monroe and nearly $250 million in investment, and the new SNF chemicals manufacturing facility will create over 500 jobs and more than $350 million in investment. The new Shaw Modular Solutions facility in southwest Louisiana will become our nation’s first nuclear-plant module manufacturing facility, and Electronic Arts in Baton Rouge continues rapidly expanding its global quality assurance facility.
Reversing a decades-long trend of losing company headquarters, we have recently achieved a string of corporate headquarters wins. Albemarle Corp. moved its headquarters from Virginia to Baton Rouge, creating our fifth Fortune 1000 company. Superior Energy Services grew to become our sixth Fortune 1000 company. CenturyLink, the result of the merger of CenturyTel and Embarq, chose Monroe as its headquarters and will add at least 350 jobs over the next few years, becoming Louisiana’s third Fortune 500 company. In all, companies have announced moves of their headquarters or other significant operations from California, Georgia, Illinois, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Since taking office, we have secured economic development wins that will create more than 34,500 direct and indirect jobs, retain more than 15,500 jobs, generate at least $4.6 billion in new investment, and result in billions of dollars in new sales for small businesses.
National organizations have lauded Louisiana’s economic progress with improved rankings. For example, Southern Business & Development magazine named Louisiana co-state of the year for generating more significant business development wins per capita than any other Southern state. Louisiana secured its highest spot ever in the Forbesranking of Best States for Business, moving up five places. Forbes now ranks Louisiana’s economic outlook eighth best in the country. A recent Portfolio.com analysis determined that Louisiana performed second best in the country during the recession. Moody’s Economy.com recognized Louisiana as one of only 11 states already recovering from the recession.
The bottom line is that our aggressive focus on improving our economic climate by keeping taxes low, reducing spending and reforming our workforce development system is working to expand businesses and create jobs. The nation is now taking notice. Louisiana is moving up in national rankings, more people are moving into our state, and most importantly, we are creating jobs. As we continue our work in 2010, our focus will not waver from our number one mission of protecting and promoting our economy so every Louisianian can pursue their dreams right here at home.