Loss of major petrochemical project to Texas reflects weakening business climate in Louisiana, industry officials say

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Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson tried to put a good face on the disappointing announcement Wednesday that Louisiana lost out to Texas in landing the world’s largest ethane cracker plant, which is being developed by ExxonMobil Chemical Co. and Saudi Basic Industries Corp, or SABIC.

“We were a strong finalist,” Pierson said. “We are very proud of the case we made on behalf of our state.”

But business and industry leaders say that’s not good enough, and they question whether Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration really understands the importance of economic development in the state.

“The reality is we have a business climate issue here in Louisiana,” says Louisiana Association of Business and Industry President and CEO Stephen Waguespack. “As we compete with states like Texas we have to look ourselves in the mirror and be honest. We are becoming well known as a state that blames business, sues business and changes the rules and tax code on business frequently. That leads to instability and hostility, which is a dangerous recipe for economic development.”

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