Saturday, December 15, 2018

LA ranked #2 for infrastructure to support economic development

Posted: Tuesday, September 11, 2018 | Views: 571

LA ranked #2 for infrastructure to support economic development
Site Selection magazine ranks states, nations for groundwork that provides economic momentum

BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana ranks No. 2 among U.S. states for infrastructure investment that supports economic growth, according to Site Selection magazine. In the magazine’s first Global Groundwork Index, nations and states were evaluated for significant investment in corporate facilities combined with significant investment in roads, bridges, airport, pipelines, railroads and more. Louisiana ranked behind only Texas among all U.S. states.

Louisiana’s transportation infrastructure has seen significant enhancements and the launch of new initiatives in recent years, as state leaders have invested strategically to support economic momentum. Planned upgrades were recently announced for several of Louisiana’s interstate highways, including enhancements to the intersection of I-20 and I-220 in Bossier Parish to provide an improved entrance to Barksdale Air Force Base. The state currently has over $250 million under construction to widen strategic segments of the I-10 freight corridor. Additionally, improvements are planned for the I-10 exit at Loyola Avenue in Kenner to facilitate access to and from Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, which itself is undergoing significant revitalization in a nearly $1 billion, 35-gate terminal expansion to be completed in 2019. Lafayette Regional Airport is preparing for a significant modernization, with work underway to build a 110,000 square-foot terminal to serve Louisiana’s Acadiana Region.

“With each passing day, it’s evident that Louisiana is achieving greater fiscal certainty, taking advantage of creative infrastructure financing, and moving forward in a business-friendly manner with continued strong momentum,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “Our administration continues to build a vibrant economy with a focus on technology and advanced manufacturing in all regions of our state. Louisiana’s efforts have not gone unnoticed by Wall Street and the firms that analyze and publish economic development data. The Site Selection recognition of our infrastructure leadership provides further validation that Louisiana is growing in a smart and strategic way.”

Improvements to railroads and ports are key components of Louisiana’s globally connected infrastructure. The Huey P. Long Bridge in Jefferson Parish received $1.2 billion in structural enhancements and widening to not only improve workforce accessibility, but also to provide safer rail traffic with dual rail tracks sharing the bridge with six lanes of auto traffic. With renovations completed in 2013, the Huey P. Long Bridge is managed by the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad, which recently was acquired by the Port of New Orleans. The expansion and acquisition are enhancing rail competitiveness and connectivity to large markets in the South.

Additionally, Union Pacific has completed more than a half-billion dollars in rail upgrades across Louisiana, since 2012, to support industrial expansion in the state. This year, Union Pacific is completing $87 million in improvements to railroads and rail bridges across the state, including a $20 million investment at the Port of Greater Baton Rouge to allow tenants to transport goods with longer trains. Such intermodal upgrades strengthen Louisiana’s shipping industry, with five of Louisiana’s ports among the 12 highest-producing ports in the U.S., as measured by total tonnage in 2017. Ports have supported the state’s leadership in foreign direct investment coming to Louisiana. The U.S. Department of Commerce’s SelectUSA program ranks Louisiana No. 1 for combined trade (exports and imports) on a per capita basis, with the Port of South Louisiana ranked as the No. 1 port by tonnage in the Western Hemisphere.

Louisiana’s strength in international commerce will be supported further by recently announced plans to deepen the main channel of the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge to the Gulf of Mexico to a depth of 50 feet. This $237.7 million dredging plan was developed by leaders on the state, local and federal levels, and it will be supported by a mix of state and federal investment. Upon completion, the dredging of the Mississippi River will result in an average annual benefit of $127.5 million to the nation’s economy. On a smaller scale, work such as the recent maintenance dredging of the West Calcasieu Port’s barge basin, a $1.3 million project, contributes to infrastructure efficiency on a local level.

To create the Global Groundwork Index, Site Selection partnered with CG/LA, a Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm specializing in global infrastructure investment for economic development. The magazine accessed CG/LA’s database to track more than 2,000 infrastructure projects worldwide. Then, it devised an index that incorporated cost and location data from CG/LA along with Site Selection’s corporate facility location and capital investment data from the past three years. The result highlights areas where crucial infrastructure is making an impact upon doing business and upon quality of life.

Site Selection also cited Louisiana-based Entergy Corp. and American Electric Power, which serves Northwest Louisiana, in its ranking of Top 10 U.S. Utilities in Economic Development. The magazine’s ranking of utilities in economic development is based on an analysis of corporate end-user project activity in 2017 in the respective company territories.

Louisiana’s ranking on Site Selection’s inaugural Global Groundwork Index is the latest of multiple national rankings and recognition for Louisiana’s economic development success:

In July 2018, Business Facilities magazine ranked LED FastStart® the No. 1 state workforce development program for a record ninth consecutive year.
*Business Facilities also ranked Louisiana as a Top 10 state in the nation for Foreign Trade Zone activity (exports), Economic Growth Potential, and Chemicals Manufacturing.
*Also in July 2018, Southern Business & Development magazine ranked Louisiana No. 2 in the South for the strongest economic development results during 2017, based on the state’s share of leading capital investment and job creation projects.
*The International Economic Development Council recently recognized Louisiana Economic Development as an Accredited Economic Development Organization, making LED the only statewide agency in the U.S. to carry the accreditation.
*Area Development magazine awarded Louisiana a 2018 Silver Shovel Award for posting one of the best economic development performances in 2017.
*Area Development magazine also ranked Louisiana No. 5 in its Top States for Doing Business for the second year in a row in 2017.