Led Faststart No. 1 in workforce development for 11th year in a row

Business Facilities also ranks Louisiana No. 1 for best industrial electricity rates, New Orleans No. 1 among logistics leaders, Port of South Louisiana No. 1 for imports

BATON ROUGE, La. — Today, Business Facilities ranked LED FastStart® as the nation’s No. 1 Workforce Development/Talent Attraction Program for an unprecedented 11th consecutive year. While recognizing Louisiana’s leadership in workforce development, the magazine also ranked the state No. 1 for most competitive industrial electricity rates. New Orleans earned a No. 1 ranking among logistics leaders, and the Port of South Louisiana gained a No. 1 ranking for imports.

In the 16th Annual State Rankings Report, Business Facilities highlights the strongest performers in economic development to a readership of industry professionals, executives, and the consultants who guide corporate site selection decisions.

“We’re proud of Louisiana’s continued leadership in workforce development and all that LED FastStart has accomplished,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “FastStart’s success stems from its desire to serve clients better. For expanding employers in Louisiana, that means FastStart develops innovative solutions to help them identify, attract and train the top talent available. Never has this model been more relevant than in 2020. In meeting the challenges of COVID-19, Louisiana’s ability to combine all our employment, higher education and economic development resources will give us a much greater degree of success.”

LED FastStart became a national leader by customizing workforce solutions to customer needs. Manufacturers adding at least 15 jobs and service companies creating at least 50 jobs can be eligible for FastStart’s comprehensive solutions at no cost. Solutions ranging from 24/7 interactive training modules to virtual reality simulations of the workplace help Louisiana employers achieve safe, convenient, cutting-edge preparation of their workers.

“The level of innovation LED FastStart achieves on a daily basis is extraordinary,” LED Secretary Don Pierson said. “We are not pursuing innovation for its own sake, but for the sake of bringing greater economic opportunity to our people and their employers. Executive Director Paul Helton and his dedicated FastStart team accomplish that by making sure every person they train is prepared for their role from day one of new operations. With LED FastStart, Louisiana is defining what the future of workforce training should be.”

Since 2008, LED FastStart has delivered a half-million hours of training to more than 31,000 employees of 226 expanding companies in Louisiana. In some cases, FastStart training protocols developed for a Louisiana location have been adopted globally by corporations.

FastStart’s deep experience in designing interactive training modules for company intranets became far more important during the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, the ITMs are used to deliver most training, available around the clock, as companies increase their remote workloads. FastStart has made C4M, a Certification for Manufacturing credential, available online to all Louisiana community colleges and high schools. This year, FastStart is installing new Haas 5-Axis CNC machining centers – considered essential for aerospace, automotive and other advanced manufacturers – at every college in the Louisiana Community and Technical College System. That’s another first for the nation.

“Louisiana Economic Development’s FastStart program remains our gold standard for customized workforce development and talent attraction,” said Business Facilities Editor in Chief Jack Rogers. “Nobody is faster at adapting new technologies and the tools needed to recruit and train a skilled workforce in today’s highly competitive market.”

Infrastructure also plays a key role in economic development success. In addition to the No. 1 state and regional rankings in industrial electricity, logistics and imports, Business Facilities ranked Louisiana No. 2 in Foreign Trade Zone exports; No. 2 for manufacturing output (as a percentage of GDP); No. 3 among film production leaders; No. 5 among cybersecurity leaders; and No. 9 for most Foreign Direct Investment, or FDI activity. The Port of South Louisiana also ranked No. 7 among export leaders.

The publication ranked New Orleans No. 6 among metro GDP leaders and No. 9 among tech hubs; Shreveport-Bossier City No. 6 among top cyber cities; and Baton Rouge No. 9 among logistics leaders.

The No. 1 Business Facilities ranking of LED FastStart joins other top economic development recognition for the state.

Earlier in July, Southern Business & Development ranked Louisiana’s economic development results No. 1 in the South, in a tie with Alabama; and the International Economic Development Council recertified LED as the only state economic development agency in the U.S. to carry Accredited Economic Development Organization status. The AEDO seal, said IEDC President and CEO Jeff Finkle, assures state residents, elected officials, employers and business prospects that their trust in LED is well-placed and that the department conducts its duties with the utmost level of professionalism.