National publication says La. has 'best business climate' in the country
For the first time, the economic development publication Business Facilities ranks Louisiana as the top state in the category of "best business climate."
"[The list considers] a number of factors, including tax incentives, cost of doing business, quality of life," said Caitlin Berni, Director of External Affairs for GNO Inc.
Berni said the ranking indicates a major turnaround in some key areas.
"Louisiana is a smart, logical choice to do business, which are two traits that haven't necessarily been associated with Louisiana's brand in the past," she said.
CityBusiness Editor Greg LaRose said Louisiana's strengths like cheap natural gas and industrial construction are coming together with newer initiatives.
"A big convergence of things builds up naturally to allow Louisiana to emerge at the top of the heap," LaRose said. "Along with doing the things that strong economic development states have already done, [Louisiana economic development leaders have] combined that with incentive packages, with job training programs."
Efforts in workforce development have been a major focus in recent years through programs like FastStart. State economic development leaders are now doing some of the heavy lifting for prospective companies when it comes to challenges like recruitment.
"We can do it, in most cases, better than the companies themselves. Because if you think about it, even these very big companies, let's say a big auto company, for example. They might only open a new plant once every year or two years. Whereas our FastStart team is doing dozens of projects every year," said Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret during an interview last year.
LaRose said Louisiana leaders have clearly aimed higher and wider over the past few years - putting themselves out there on a national stage.
"Film and movie production, industrial expansion - anything that depends on the river or natural gas, and now digital media, things are very tech-oriented. They've broadened their reach, and not just gone after one legacy business, say like, oil and gas. They can cast a wide net and they're bringing in a broader catch as a result," LaRose said.
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