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Jul 20, 2009
Governor Jindal's "Louisiana Working Tour" Makes Stop in Opelousas

OPELOUSAS – Today, Governor Bobby Jindal brought his “Louisiana Working Tour” to Opelousas where he addressed the Rotary Club of Opelousas and stressed the importance of economic development and job creation. Governor Jindal is visiting all 64 parishes within the next several months as part of his “Louisiana Working Tour” to highlight the state’s top priority of job creation.

Governor Jindal said, “Our number one mission is to establish an economic environment that creates opportunity for our people. Indeed, we’ve pursued a strategy that rejects policies to raise taxes on our people and businesses – and focused on making government live within its means. Through this mission, we’ve created thousands of jobs and billions in capital investment for Louisiana, but we’ve got more work to do. We must continue to do everything we can to keep this momentum going – and we will not stop until our state is one of the best places in the country for businesses to invest, grow and create jobs.”

Fostering Job Creation

Governor Jindal highlighted a number of reforms made since he entered office in order to create a winning economic environment, including ethics reforms, tax cuts and revamping the state’s workforce development system.

On ethics reform, Governor Jindal noted, “We had to fundamentally change the way business was done in our state – and through an incredibly tough package of ethics laws we worked with the legislature to pass in that first special session – we succeeded.”

Governor Jindal said because of these reforms Louisiana moved from the bottom five to the top five on the Better Government Association’s BGA-Alper Integrity Index rankings and the Center for Public Integrity recently announced that Louisiana’s legislative disclosure requirement went up from number 44 to number one in the nation.

The Governor highlighted reforms he pushed to eliminate burdensome business taxes saying, “We came back in a second legislative session and eliminated – or sped up the elimination – of taxes that were crippling the growth of businesses and discouraging investment in our state including taxes on debt, utilities, and new equipment.”

Governor Jindal also noted that he worked with the Legislature to completely overhaul the state’s workforce development system in order to connect thousands of job opportunities with skilled workers.

Governor Jindal said, “We used to compete based on our resources, now we must compete based on having the most skilled workforce. Seventy percent of employers considering expanding or relocating to Louisiana tell us that finding skilled workers is their top one or two concerns.”

Economic Wins Create Jobs

Governor Jindal said that since he has entered office, Louisiana has won economic development projects creating more than 32,000 direct and indirect jobs and $4.3 billion in capital investment.

Governor Jindal said, “These new jobs and billions of dollars in business investment in our state are not a coincidence. This is the product of a strategy geared at positioning Louisiana to be one of the best places in the world for business investment, expansion, and job creation.”

Governor Jindal used real life examples of how these economic development wins are helping Louisianians. 

The Governor recognized Lakisha Singleton of Opelousas who has been impacted positively because of the state’s focus on business expansion and retention. Singleton left her job as an underwriter for an insurance company so she could take a class to help her become a licensed insurance agent. When she started looking for work again, she had trouble finding a good job.

Singleton searched around the Opelousas area for about three months when she decided that she was going to move their family to Dallas. Singleton says she didn’t want to move. Her kids are eleven and seven years old and she has grown up in Opelousas. 

When Singleton’s move to Dallas was only two weeks away, she passed a sign for Thomas and Thomas Insurance while she was on a walk. She stopped and put the number in her phone, but she later realized she got the wrong number, so she walked all the way back to the company again, took down the correct number and started calling Thomas and Thomas to see if they were hiring.

Deborah Thomas founded Thomas and Thomas in March last year, and LED’s Small Business Development Center assisted her with a business plan, which helped her to get a micro-loan of $20,000 for working capital so she could get her business off the ground.

Singleton sent the company her resume and called them, she says, almost every day to ask for a position there. A week or two later, her persistence paid off and she was hired.

Singleton is now working as a receptionist for Thomas and Thomas, and she will take the test to become a licensed insurance agent this week. If she gets her license, she hopes to become an agent at Thomas and Thomas.

Governor Jindal said, “Not only is she on her way to pursuing the career she wants, but Lakisha’s job at Thomas and Thomas will keep her and her kids right here at home near their family and friends in Opelousas.”

In the Acadiana Region, economic development wins resulted in 235 new direct jobs in the parish, 585 new indirect jobs, and $424 million in new capital investment.

  • Bobcat Gas Storage = 39 Total New Jobs. The Bobcat Gas Storage Facility will result in 25 new direct jobs and 14 new indirect jobs for St. Landry Parish.
  • Cameron Valves = 281 Total New Jobs. The expansion of Cameron Valves will result in an estimated 110 new direct jobs, an estimated 171 new indirect jobs and the retention of 487 jobs for Evangeline Parish.
  • Zagis USA = 500 Total New Jobs. The Zagis USA cotton spinning facility in Lacassine will result in an estimated 100 new direct jobs, 400 new indirect jobs and a new capital investment of $35 million for Jefferson Davis Parish.

Governor Jindal highlighted a number of recent economic development wins, including:

  • V-Vehicle Company – 1,400 jobs 
  • Gardner Denver Thomas – 200 jobs
  • Shaw Modular Solutions – 1,400 jobs
  • Foster Farms – 1,100 jobs
  • The Shaw Group headquarters – 1,500 jobs
  • Coca-Cola – 113 jobs
  • Criterion Catalysts & Technologies – 50 jobs
  • Gulf Island Marine Fabricators – 200 jobs
  • SNF – 500 jobs
  • U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command – 1,000 jobs
  • CPSI – 100 jobs
  • Pan American Capital Group (reopening of Tembec paper mill) – 200 jobs
  • Schlumberger – 400 jobs
  • Albemarle HQ relocation – 30 jobs
  • Bercen Inc. HQ and R&D relocation – 20 jobs
  • ADA-ES – 50 jobs
  • Federal City – 300 jobs
  • Performance Energy Services – 350 jobs
  • LaShip – 1,000 jobs

Driving Louisiana’s Economy

The Governor said that Louisiana is not only one of the few states announcing new jobs and new investments in this challenging economy, but major new economic drivers. Indeed, he noted that out of roughly 120,000 employers in the state, about 1,000 of them are responsible for more than 50 percent of the total economic activity, and the state’s recent job win announcements has added to this top tier.

Governor Jindal said the expansion of Gardner Denver Thomas in Monroe, the reopening of Tembec mill in West Feliciana, the opening of the new VVC auto assembly facility in Monroe, and the opening of the new SNF chemical plant in Iberville – will each be added to the list of top 300 economic-driver companies in Louisiana once they hit full employment. 

He also highlighted other top 300 economic driver wins, including the LaShip project in Southeast Louisiana, Shaw Modular Solutions in Lake Charles, the Shaw headquarters expansion in Baton Rouge, Zagis USA, and the Performance Energy expansion.

The Governor said Louisiana has attracted three significant new headquarters to Louisiana – including Albemarle Bercen Inc., and Horizon Entertainment – and the state recently added its third Fortune 500 company with the merger of CenturyTel and EMBARQ.

Governor Jindal said that while other states are seeing people leave under high unemployment rates, Louisiana has now experienced its second consecutive year of population in-migration, according to the U.S. Census.

Governor Jindal said that Southern Business & Development (SB&D) magazine recently announced that Louisiana is “Co-state of the Year” alongside Tennessee for economic expansion and business growth. Louisiana and Tennessee beat out 15 other states in the South in the annual SB&D 100 rankings

Additionally, SB&D named New Orleans the “Major Market of the Year” and Baton Rouge “Mid-Market of the Year.” Terrebonne Parish also received recognition from SB&D for landing projects that will have a positive impact on the local economy.

Governor Jindal also noted that Louisiana ranks second in the South for having the lowest unemployment rate, and the state currently has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation – nearly three percentage points below the national average.

The Governor said the Baton Rouge market specifically was reported to have the second largest total of year-over-year job gains out of 310 metro areas in the country recently studied – and both Livingston and Ascension Parishes recently made the top 100 List of Fastest Growing Counties/Parishes in the country.

Governor Jindal said that NewGeography.com ranked Lafayette, Baton Rouge and Shreveport-Bossier in the top 10 of their 2009 Best Medium-Sized Cities for Job Growth, and BusinessWeek named Baton Rouge and New Orleans among the most stable cities for riding out the national recession.

Finally, he noted that The Local Market Monitor, a national real estate market appraisal organization, says Louisiana is one of just five states in the country to show an increase in home prices over the past year.

The assessment says that the Housing Price Index jumped 3.1 percent in Louisiana, but nationally, it fell by 10.2 percent. In fact, Local Market Monitor ranks Lake Charles, Shreveport, Alexandria and Monroe among the top ten housing markets with a population of 600,000 people or less.

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