Mixing It Up
Diverse businesses driving state’s economy
Though Louisiana’s important oil and gas sector remains in a slump due to low commodity prices, the state continues to win kudos for supporting a wide range of industry sectors. For the seventh consecutive year, Louisiana ranked among the top 10 in Site Selector Magazine’s “best states for business,” based upon companies’ experience in locating facilities, the number of new projects undertaken, business performance and the state’s tax environment.
In addition, the employment website Thumbtack recently ranked Louisiana at No. 7 among the “best states in America” for women to start a business.
Here are a few highlights of recent economic activity across the state.
Upstarts embrace shared digs
In a city that has become known for nurturing its start-up culture, affordable office options for fledgling businesses continue to grow. The Warehouse threw its hat into the ring in recent months by opening a shared workspace on Dauphine Street in the Bywater neighborhood. Co-founder Erin Allen says the 10,000-square-foot space, in which tenants share overhead costs, includes 22 private offices, room for 40 desks and a generous communal space where entrepreneurs can gather to share ideas and growth strategies. The new space, along with existing incubators and accelerators such as Propeller, Launch Pad, Beta and The Blue House, adds to a supportive environment that last year prompted SmartAsset to rank New Orleans the No. 1 city in America for creative professionals.
New owner ‘recycles’ timber plant
New life lies ahead for a St. Landry Parish lumber mill being acquired by a subsidiary of San Antonio-based Adobe Machinery Group LLC. The company expects to hire more than 30 workers in addition to retaining 20 existing jobs at the mill, where workers will assemble timber and laminated mats for use in the construction, petrochemical and energy industries. The acquisition includes all of the standing timber and cut logs associated with the previous owner, Bayou State Lumber Co.
Jobs in pipeline for Capital area
Heavy industry continues to rock the economy in Livingston Parish with the opening of EPIC Piping’s new $45 million fabrication plant, which features advanced robotics that will speed production of pipe for a host of industries across the country. The 270,000-square-foot plant is expected to employ 560 workers at the site, near Interstate 12 and Louisiana Highway 63. EPIC predicts that the plant, along with associated facilities in Texas and the United Arab Emirates, will become a “global leader” in industrial pipe fabrication.
North Louisiana feels tech impact
Some 400 new jobs are on tap in North Louisiana during the next two years as work ramps up at the site of a new National Cyber Research Park in Bossier City. IT services provider CSRA in November dedicated a 96,000-square-foot technology center that will anchor the sprawling park. CSRA President Larry Prior expects to hire another 300 people to staff a nearby “customer engagement center” that will open soon. CSRA already employs about 400 people in the city, delivering technical services to contractors that serve the federal government. To provide a pipeline of talent for the project, the state of Louisiana has undertaken a $14 million effort, led by Louisiana Tech University, to boost undergraduate degrees awarded in computer sciences and cyber engineering.