Louisiana Retains Top 5 Ranking In Survey Of Best Business States

Speed of permitting, workforce development get high marks in annual Top States for Doing Business report

BATON ROUGE — Louisiana remains one of the most business-friendly states in the U.S., ranking No. 5 for the second consecutive year in Area Development magazine’s annual Top States for Doing Business survey.

The 2017 survey represents the seventh consecutive year Louisiana has ranked in the nation’s Top 10, and the No. 5 ranking this year and in 2016 are the highest ever for the state. Area Development surveys the nation’s top site selection consultants to produce the report’s findings.

“We are working every day to grow quality jobs for Louisiana residents,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “Our economy is more diversified than ever, from the I-20 Cyber Corridor across North Louisiana to the LNG industry expanding through the Southwest Region and the lower Mississippi River. Our success depends upon Louisiana and its regional and local partners creating and maintaining a healthy business climate. We appreciate this recognition from Area Development for our ongoing efforts.”

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In addition to the overall Top States for Doing Business ranking, Area Development ranked states in a number of specific business categories. Louisiana ranked No. 1 for Speed of Permitting and No. 2 for Leading Workforce Development Programs. The state earned three No. 4 rankings for Incentive Programs, Cooperative State Government and Most Favorable Regulatory Environment. Other noteworthy rankings include No. 6 for Competitive Utility Rates, No. 7 for Certified Sites or Shovel-Ready Programs and No. 9 for Overall Cost of Doing Business.

Area Development took note of LED FastStart® – Louisiana’s customized workforce development program – as a substantial selling point for the state.

“When making a site selection decision, companies ask if the location’s workforce will have the training needed to perform the job, especially when it comes to STEM skills,” the report said. “To alleviate these concerns, many states provide comprehensive workforce development programs. With the help of local postsecondary educational institutions, these programs screen, select, and train the workforce a company needs for a new location or expansion. Louisiana Economic Development’s FastStart program provides comprehensive employee recruiting, screening, training and orientation to assure smooth start-up for new operations. FastStart is also engaged in creating new employment opportunities in regions hurt by the oil and gas slump, as well as educating high school students about career opportunities in manufacturing and other industries.”

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The magazine cited Louisiana’s responsive state government as a key element of the state’s successful business environment. Louisiana ranked fourth among all states in that category.

“Industry experts at Louisiana Economic Development are highly knowledgeable in their fields and can respond quickly to prospective companies interested in relocation or expansion,” the report said.

In the Business Incentive Programs category, Area Development lauded Louisiana for the new economic development fund it created with a large donation from Cleco.

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“States also provide specialized incentives that target certain industries,” the report said. “Fourth-ranked Louisiana recently announced it would create and manage a $7 million economic development fund for the 23-parish service territory for Cleco, an energy services company in central Louisiana. The purpose of the fund is to provide infrastructure improvements and other investments that will attract new capital investment and job-creating projects to the area, by both existing firms and new employers coming into the region.”

Louisiana ranks among the leading states for business climate in multiple national rankings. In addition to its Top 5 rating in the Area Development Top States for Doing Business report, Louisiana ranked No. 1 for the ninth consecutive year as the Southern state claiming the most economic development project wins per capita, as determined by Southern Business & Development magazine. Louisiana ranked No. 10 in this year’s Prosperity Cup by Site Selection magazine and No. 7 in Site Selection’s Top U.S. Business Climates Report. Louisiana also ranks No. 10 in DCI’s Most Favorable Business Climate ranking.

In July, Business Facilities ranked LED FastStart® as the nation’s No. 1 state workforce training program for a record eight years in a row. In the magazine’s 2017 State Rankings Report, Louisiana also earned a No. 1 ranking for cybersecurity growth potential and additional Top 10 rankings among the best states for business costs, economic growth, exports, infrastructure and utility costs.

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