BATON ROUGE — Today, 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. New Orleans, Lafayette, Shreveport and the Gramercy Foreign Trade Zone received Top 10 honors as regional economic leaders, with the Port of South Louisiana-based Gramercy zone ranked No. 1 for imports.
Describing LED FastStart as the gold standard for workforce training programs, Business Facilities has judged the Louisiana program as the best offering from any state every year this decade. For expanding companies in target industries, FastStart tailors comprehensive recruiting, screening, training and orientation solutions that enable a company’s new employees to be fully prepared for the launch of new operations on day one.
“Today’s economy is an increasingly complex one, with the demand for technology-based training growing every day and the global standards for that training rising continually,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “That’s why LED FastStart is so important. In Louisiana, we’ve harnessed the power of our workforce partners — the Louisiana Workforce Commission, the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, the Board of Regents and others — so that we can deliver world-class workforce solutions to our valued existing employers who are expanding, and to incoming companies who are discovering Louisiana’s smart, comprehensive commitment to training.”
Additional Top 10 recognitions for Louisiana in the 2017 State Rankings Report include: No. 3 for Best Infrastructure, No. 7 for Best Cost of Doing Business, No. 9 for Economic Growth Potential, No. 9 for Export Leaders and No. 10 for Lowest Industrial Electricity Rates.
Business Facilities Editor-in-Chief Jack Rogers cited LED FastStart’s growing influence. In June, the White House staged a Workforce of Tomorrow Summit, with one outcome being President Trump’s signing of an executive order that will fund 4.5 million new apprenticeships over the next five years, or 10 times the current total. “Standing beside the president in the Cabinet Room,” Rogers noted, “was Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson, who was on hand to discuss the continued success of LED FastStart.”
“We’re proud of all the competitive economic rankings Louisiana has earned,” Pierson said, “but the LED FastStart ranking is truly special because we’ve sustained excellence for such a long period, and we’ve continued to innovate and get better. Creating such technological tools as LouisianaJobConnection.com and LouisianaBusinessConnection.com adds great value to our bedrock recruitment and training programs for expanding employers. In the past year, LED FastStart also worked hard to create new job opportunities in parts of our state hit hard by the oil and gas slump, and Executive Director Paul Helton and his team implemented a Dream It. Do It. campaign in support of National Manufacturing Week that focused thousands of Louisiana students, their parents and their teachers on the great careers available in manufacturing.”
In addition to ranking LED FastStart No. 1 in the Workforce Training Leaders category, Business Facilities ranked Louisiana No. 1 in the U.S. for Cybersecurity Growth Potential.
Recognizing that potential, Louisiana Tech University in Ruston created the nation’s first four-year degree in cyber engineering. The university is leading a 10-year initiative to accelerate the number of computer science graduates in North Louisiana who can support such projects as the 800-job CSRA Integrated Technology Center at the National Cyber Research Park in Bossier City, near Shreveport. Northwestern State University and Bossier Parish Community College are major contributors to that effort, while the University of Louisiana at Monroe is leading another higher education initiative growing talent for the 400-job IBM Client Innovation Center in Monroe, with Grambling State University and Louisiana Tech as major contributors. Technology assets along Interstate 20 in North Louisiana, ranging from the Global Strike Command at Barksdale Air Force Base to the headquarters of Fortune 500 firm CenturyLink, are creating an emerging I-20 Cyber Corridor.
Downstate, LSU is leading a 10-year higher education initiative that supports the 800-job IBM Client Innovation Center in Baton Rouge and UNO is leading a 10-year talent initiative in software engineering and related careers to support the 300-job GE Digital Technology Center and other IT services employers in New Orleans. In Lafayette, where software and IT firms CGI, Perficient and Enquero have announced new technology centers, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette is leading a 10-year initiative to triple the number of computer science undergraduate degrees awarded annually in support of CGI and other regional employers.
At the regional level, the 2017 Rankings Report highlighted Shreveport-Bossier City as No. 2 for Emerging Cybersecurity Hubs, No. 4 for Economic Growth Potential (among cities with under 300,000 population) and No. 10 for Lowest Cost of Living; New Orleans ranked No. 7 for Connectivity among mid-sized cities; Lafayette ranked No. 5 for Foreign Direct Investment Strategy; and the Gramercy Foreign Trade Zone in South Louisiana ranked No. 1 for imports, among all trade zones in the nation. The Gramercy zone includes such mainstays as Marathon Petroleum’s refinery in Garyville and Shell refineries in Convent and Norco. The trade zone is part of the Port of South Louisiana, the No. 1 port by tonnage in the Western Hemisphere.
Business Facilities has been a leading source of intelligence on corporate expansion and relocation projects since 1968. For more on the magazine’s 13th Annual Rankings Report, visit businessfacilities.com.