Forbes magazine has released its new rankings for “Best States for Business,” and Louisiana is moving up and looking good.
“The biggest gainer this year is Louisiana, which rises to No. 29 from No. 40,” writes Kurt Badenhausen in the 2014 Forbes report. “Louisiana has made great strides since Hurricanes Rita and Katrina hit in 2005. Income and economic growth are among the best in the U.S. over the last five years. Lower business costs and an improved economic outlook also pushed up the Bayou State.”
Maybe the real story is that Louisiana in 2008 was near rock bottom of this list at No. 49. One would think Louisianans would be pleased with the state’s growth given the concerns of Americans nationwide. A Gallup poll last month listed their top four concerns as the economy, government, immigration and unemployment. You could say all four are related to economic growth and jobs. (And without new jobs and growth, the challenges for any state mount quickly in many areas.)
But the Forbes ranking is not the only recognition of Louisiana’s progress. Look at a few more numbers below and what they will mean for 2015 and beyond—and ask yourself if other states are not envious.
Site Selection magazine has ranked Louisiana at its highest level ever on the publication’s annual list of the best states for business climate. “Louisiana jumps from sixth place last year to second in 2014 in the overall ranking, surpassing North Carolina (third place) and Texas (fourth)—the two states that have battled for first place in the Top Business Climate ranking for much of the past decade,” says the magazine.
Also, Louisiana’s nonfarm employment is now just 3,200 jobs short of reaching the 2 million mark—a record number.
In addition, the BRAC economic outlook presented last month showed:
- Employment in the Baton Rouge region hit its highest level ever in September, at 398,800, representing the second year in a row that the region has broken its employment record
- The Baton Rouge area’s economic expansion has been outpacing the national average in a number of important indicators. Gross regional product (GRP) per capita has increased 24% since 2009, while national gross domestic product (GDP) per capita has risen only 17%. In terms of absolute dollars, the region’s GRP has increased nearly $12 billion in the last five years.
- The latest BRAC survey revealed that 88% of respondents expect local economic growth to continue in 2015, and a majority of respondents expect further employment growth.
It appears that despite the tremendous growth of the last few years, 2015 can be even better with new records set for jobs in Louisiana.
Fighting human trafficking
“The Protected Innocence Challenge” is an annual report card issued by Shared Hope International. It grades each state on 41 key legislative components that must be addressed in the state’s laws in order to respond effectively to the crime of domestic minor sex trafficking.
Louisiana, Washington and Tennessee were the only three states in the nation to earn an “A” on the 2013 report card, with Louisiana recording the top score of 96.
The first report card came out in 2011, with Louisiana scoring an average 70%. Gov. Bobby Jindal, the Legislature, Laura and Lee Domingue and others are to be thanked for their efforts to change the laws.
Jindal said, “This report shows just how far Louisiana has come in our mission to eradicate human trafficking. Human trafficking is a terrible industry that preys on our women and children and treats them like property rather than human beings.”
Mouths drop open when folks are told that $3.7 billion was spent on the recent elections. But Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post shared in his blog a chart from Bruce Mehlman that was quite telling and may surprise you. It compared the money spent on the November 2014 elections to how much Americans spend in other areas.
Did you realize that we spend twice that amount annually on Halloween ($7.4 billion)? Or three times that on dry cleaning ($11.7 billion)? Or more than five times that on video games ($20.5 billion)?
Those figures put overall election spending more into context. But Cillizza makes the point that the money for elections comes from only 0.2% of the 316 million Americans. It might be true that a lot more Americans engage with their dry cleaners or video game stores than in elections. So here’s an idea: Maybe those shops should be polling places in the future to increase voter turnout.
Library could be catalyst
It seems the top spot now under consideration for a new south branch library is vacant land on Lee Drive, opposite the new Lee High School that’s under construction. The new location for the library is a result of stalled plans at the initial Rouzan site on Perkins Road.
Of course, Perkins is a five-lane road and Lee Drive is only two (though it widens to three in front of the school). The heavily traveled two-lane road is a concern and should be.
It is absurd that a narrow two-lane Lee Drive connects a five-lane College Drive on one end to a four-lane West Lee Drive on the other. It’s another example of poor planning and no political will by city leaders.
Once again we will suffer the pains of growth by playing catch-up at a much higher cost. Lee Drive needs to be widened, and maybe the new library could be the catalyst to get this done.
Saving the lakes
Passing by the LSU lakes recently, I was amazed at how many people enjoy walking and running along the lakes every day. The lakes are such a jewel in the heart of our city, along with the adjacent City-Brooks Park.
The first of four planned public meetings for local feedback on the master plan to restore City Park and the LSU lakes happened recently. If you missed it, the next public meeting—billed as a Build Your Own Park workshop—will be 6 p.m., Dec. 11, at the LSU Union Cotillion Ballroom. You can RSVP at batonrougelakes.org. You also can share your thoughts on improving the lakes at thelakes.mindmixer.com.
Former LSU coach Dale Brown and star player Shaquille O’Neal were inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame last month in Kansas City. Each has made his mark on the game of basketball. It was a proud day for LSU.
And Dr. Leon Tarver II was elected chairman of the Southern University Board of Supervisors. The former president of the Southern University System has tough challenges ahead, including a search for a new president and a chancellor—though now would be a good time to combine the positions as LSU has done.