Today, Louisiana Economic Development unveiled Louisiana Is A Force, the state agency’s annual report that documents strong results for attracting investment and jobs to Louisiana amid a year of historic public health and natural disaster responses.
When COVID-19 arrived on U.S. shores in early 2020, LED moved most of its economic development recruitment, expansion and retention, and small business programs to virtual settings. The state agency established help desks and online resources to assist thousands of businesses affected by COVID-19 and the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season. In April, Gov. John Bel Edwards created the Resilient Louisiana Commission to confront those new challenges and to recommend strategies for making Louisiana more resistant to future economic disruptions, such as public health emergencies and hurricanes.
“Against great odds, LED continued its core mission of increasing economic opportunity for our people,” Gov. Edwards said. “That work yielded 58 new economic development projects representing over 11,000 new jobs and more than $12 billion in new capital investment. In 2020, LED’s work truly exemplified our vision for a better, safer, stronger Louisiana.”
In early 2020, Louisiana attracted a manufacturing investment from Canadian company E.I. Williams to Webster Parish, along with 222 new direct and indirect jobs. Advanced Aero Services announced a Shreveport Regional Airport project with 137 new direct and indirect jobs. Other North Louisiana projects included Tomakk Glass in Shreveport (127 total jobs); a $35 million frozen foods expansion by Lamb Weston in Richland Parish (78 new jobs); and Weyerhaeuser’s $16.1 million reinvestment in its Natchitoches Mill (200 retained jobs, 45 new jobs).
In Central Louisiana, P&G and supplier Plastipak moved forward with new projects that will retain over 800 workers and result in 30 new jobs. To the south in Ville Platte, Cabot announced a $90 million reinvestment in its carbon-black facility, retaining 90 jobs and resulting in over 60 new direct and indirect jobs. Other Acadiana highlights included SchoolMint’s corporate headquarters relocation from Silicon Valley to Lafayette (397 total new jobs) and Amazon’s $100 million fulfillment center in Carencro (nearly 1,500 new direct and indirect jobs).
Other 2020 project wins for Louisiana included Grön Fuels at the Port of Greater Baton Rouge (proposed $9.2 billion renewable diesel refinery); Mitsubishi Chemical’s $1 billion acrylic resins project in Ascension Parish; ExxonMobil’s $240 million suite of refinery enhancements (retaining 1,300 refinery jobs); Hood Container’s $50 million project in St. Francisville (306 retained jobs); SCI’s corporate office expansion in Jefferson Parish (600 Louisiana retained jobs, 148 new jobs); and International Paper’s $52.5 million Bogalusa Mill modernization (492 jobs retained).
“In 2020, we worked diligently, delivered the second-most project wins during this administration, and elevated our results since 2016 to more than 50,000 new jobs and $55 billion in new capital investment for Louisiana,” said LED Secretary Don Pierson. “We enter 2021 with optimism, and a resolve to continue raising Louisiana’s profile as an innovative state where businesses and people thrive.”
That resolve motivated more than 300 citizen leaders across Louisiana as they contributed their expertise to the Resilient Louisiana Commission and its 15 task forces. Secretary Pierson and health care executive Terrie Sterling co-chaired the commission, which delivered major reports to Gov. Edwards. The first report in May provided short-term recommendations to guide the governor’s decision-making in reopening the economy safely during the COVID-19 event.
In November, the commission delivered A Comprehensive Game Plan for a More Resilient Louisiana to Gov. Edwards, this time documenting ways to bring greater technology access, better health care delivery, and more equitable prosperity to all of Louisiana’s residents, while also recommending long-term paths for fiscal reform and infrastructure investment that can build a more resilient Louisiana for future generations.
Through collaboration with elected officials, economic development organizations and other stakeholders across Louisiana, LED also achieved the following in 2020:
COVID-19, Hurricane Response
- Established LED help desks responding to over 1,850 calls and emails from businesses impacted by COVID-19 and hurricanes.
- Conducted five disaster surveys through LED’s Business Expansion and Retention Group, and monitored business conditions and needs through 1,538 interactions with economic driver companies in Louisiana.
- Created the Louisiana Loan Portfolio Guaranty Program, with the Louisiana Bankers Association and Louisiana Public Facilities Authority, to provide up to $50 million of COVID-19 assistance to impacted small businesses.
- Established an e-commerce initiative with Shopify to help small businesses create or enhance their web presence in the wake of COVID-19.
- Supported firms seeking COVID-19 federal aid that has led, so far, to nearly $10 billion in Paycheck Protection Program funds for keeping doors open and sustaining payrolls in over 107,000 Louisiana small businesses.
- Supported CARES Act grant applications to the U.S. Department of Commerce, leading thus far to $37 million in Economic Development Administration awards for Louisiana recovery assistance projects.
Business, Workforce Initiatives
- Secured state-funded technology agreements totaling $3.3 million to spur workforce and STEM training at Southern University at Shreveport and LSU Shreveport.
- Staged the third Louisiana Entertainment Summit in February, with executives from Xbox, Microsoft and the Motion Picture Association.
- Assisted more than 17,500 small businesses and entrepreneurs through LED’s partnership with the Louisiana Small Business Development Center Network.
- Secured a $7.5 million U.S. Department of Defense award for new technology education centers at five Vernon Parish Schools that support Fort Polk military and area civilian families.
- Launched a SmartPort initiative with The Water Institute of the Gulf and Louisiana’s Mississippi River ports to digitize port operations and enhance maritime supply chains and emergency management operations.
- Created PAVE, the Pathway to Assist Veteran Entrepreneurs Program, to guide Louisiana military and veteran entrepreneurs in starting a business, through a partnership with the Louisiana Small Business Development Center Network, Louisiana National Guard and Louisiana Department of Veteran Affairs.
- No. 1 ranking for best economic development performance in the South, from Southern Business & Development magazine (based on 2019 results).
- No. 1 national ranking for the best state workforce training and talent attraction program – LED FastStart® – for the 11th consecutive year, from Business Facilities magazine.
To view the full 2020 LED Annual Report, click [here].