Louisiana dominates national economic development rankings

(iStock) Downtown New Orleans

Louisiana dominated Southern Business & Development magazine’s economic development rankings this year, with New Orleans tying Nashville for Major Market of the Year, Lake Charles taking Small Market of the Year for the ninth time and Louisiana ranking No. 2.

This is the 11th year in a row that Louisiana has ranked either No. 1 or No. 2 in the highly competitive category of securing the best economic development performance in the South on a per capita basis.

The rankings appeared in the magazine’s annual SB&D 100 Top Deals and Hot Markets issue.

The magazine tracked the most significant capital-investment and job-creation projects across the South, with states earning points for large employment projects and large capital-investment projects attracted during 2018. Louisiana earned 73.4 points-per-million, outperforming third-place Kentucky (70.0), fourth-place South Carolina (50.1) and fifth-place Mississippi (50.0). Only Alabama, at 79.7 points, performed at a higher level to earn State of the Year honors.

In a record performance, Lake Charles earned its ninth consecutive Small Market of the Year honor for best economic development performance in cities of 50,000 to 250,000 people. New Orleans tied Nashville at No. 1 for Major Market of the Year among cities with 750,000 to 2.5 million people. Baton Rouge finished No. 3 in the Major Market category, ahead of Austin, Texas, and Louisville, Kentucky.

Lake Charles outdistanced runners-up in Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama.

“The Lake Charles region has been a nationwide leader in the petrochemical and LNG industries for years; however, this latest run is unprecedented,” said SB&D Publisher Michael Randle. “Tens of billions of dollars have been invested in Southwest Louisiana in those nine years and the Lake Charles MSA has seen greater job growth than any market in America. The fracking frenzy has certainly benefited Southwest Louisiana’s economy in a grand way.”

George Swift, president and CEO of the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, said the region enjoys natural resource advantages, but also has capitalized on those resources in a strategic way.

“Our success is due to regional cooperation and collaboration,” Swift said. “The Calcasieu Ship Channel, our port network including the Port of Lake Charles and Cameron Parish Port, a robust pipeline network, strong support by area elected officials, McNeese State University and SOWELA Technical Community College, and leadership and strong incentives from the State of Louisiana are some of the reasons for the success of Southwest Louisiana. The exciting part is that our region is not even halfway through major projects and expansions. The future is very bright for economic and job growth.”

In the Major Market of the Year category (metros of 750,000 to 2.5 million), New Orleans ranked No. 1 in a tie with Nashville, at 135 points. Baton Rouge ranked right behind them at No. 3 with 125 points. States and markets earn 10 points for projects within the Top 100 list for most investment and jobs, and five points for qualifying projects below the Top 100.