Key Industries

Louisiana universities operate twenty agricultural research stations throughout the state and routinely partner with business to provide research and resources


Louisiana provides vast resources for emerging and expanding companies in the agribusiness and food processing industries. The state's forests supply timber; its farmlands yield cotton, soybeans and sugar cane; and its waters account for one-third of the nation's seafood supply. The warm climate means an extended growing season, and an intermodal transportation infrastructure helps ship value-added products around the globe.

Abundant natural resources coupled with a strong business climate are giving companies a competitive edge. Louisiana offers the second lowest state/local tax burden in the U.S. for a new business operation, according to a 50-state analysis by the Tax Foundation and KPMG: Location Matters: A Comparative Analysis of State Costs on Business. The top-ranked LED FastStart® program, with the ability to rapidly recruit and deploy a trained workforce, has become a key deal closer for Louisiana in site selection competitions.

Exporting products around the world is cost effective and simple in Louisiana, which offers a robust transportation and distribution infrastructure, as well as one of the most expeditious environmental permitting agencies in the U.S. And because natural gas fuels a large portion of the state's power generation, electricity rates for Louisiana industry now rank among the lowest in the nation.

Louisiana's business climate, coupled with one of the country's most vibrant, distinct and well-preserved cultures makes the state an exciting place to live, play and work. Louisiana residents enjoy a low cost of living, low housing costs and low unemployment rates. With its rich blend of historical influences, mild climate and diverse natural environments for year-round outdoor experiences, constant line-up of festivals and cultural events, as well as professional and collegiate athletic teams that are rooted in tradition and triumph, Louisiana offers a rich quality of life.

Louisianians are warm and friendly, relaxed and fun-loving, but they are also highly effective and loyal. A right to work state for more than three decades, there are currently over 440,000 people employed in Louisiana in manufacturing-related positions. And these employees are producing excellent value for their employers. According to the US Census Bureau's Annual Survey of Manufactures data released in November 2012, Louisiana ranks #2 in the nation in value added per dollar of wages and per hour worked.

  • Compared to the U.S., Louisiana produces 114 percent more value added for each hour worked
  • Compared to the U.S., Louisiana produces 77 percent more value for each $1 of wages

Workforce Recruitment and Training
Community and technical college programs coupled with research university curriculum provide the strong skills background and expertise that make Louisiana's workforce so productive. Add to the mix LED FastStart, the nation's best workforce recruitment and training program, and agribusiness operations in Louisiana have a strong competitive advantage. FastStart works with new and expanding Louisiana-based operations to ensure that they have a highly-qualified, trained workforce from day one. All at no cost to the company. FastStart has designed and delivered customized workforce solutions for a wide variety of Fortune 500 companies across multiple industry sectors. In particular, the team has managed hundreds of workforce programs in multiple states including for leading companies like Roy O. Martin, American Woodmark Corp., ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston, Folgers and Zagis.

Research Resources
In addition to LED FastStart, Louisiana is making strategic investments in higher education to meet the state's future workforce needs. Because of the state's rich agricultural history, Louisiana's universities have strong connections to agribusiness sectors. Twenty university-run research stations located throughout the state offer businesses groundbreaking research and economic resources.

Research Stations

Specialty food products ventures can also benefit from technical support and the latest research from experts in LSU's Food Science Department and School of Renewable Natural Resources. In South Louisiana, Nicholls State University has recently partnered with Chef John Folse to create a Culinology program — merging food science with culinary arts.

ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston
Recently, ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston formed a research partnership with the LSU AgCenter Sweet Potato Research Station — the only facility of its kind devoted to sweet potato development — in conjunction with their new sweet potato processing facility in Northeast Louisiana. Their goal is to develop a more disease-resistant variety of sweet potato that is less prone to bruising during harvesting and processing. Close proximity and easy access to the center's scientists were primary reasons ConAgra Lamb Weston selected Delhi, where the sweet potato processing facility opened in fall 2010.

"FastStart's capabilities should clinch decision making for firms looking for a place to expand or create new operations. It can make that decision-making process much easier for employers if they understand the value that this program can provide to them."
- Dan Downard, Director of Human Resources, ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston

Louisiana's location is one of its most valuable advantages. The state's superior transportation infrastructure and proximity to abundant natural resources and feedstock coupled with a large selection of identified and certified sites make doing business in Louisiana a optimal choice for agribusiness operations.

Louisiana is well-situated for both inbound and outbound logistics. The state is home to six interstate highways and is one of only two states in the U.S. with all six Class 1 railroads. A Louisiana location also means access to one of the largest port systems in the world. About 2,300 miles of navigable inland waterways connect each of Louisiana's six deep-water ports to a network of eight coastal ports and 13 inland ports. This unrivaled system provides access via the Mississippi River to 38 interior states and the Gulf of Mexico. The Port of South Louisiana is the largest tonnage port in the U.S., with primary outbound cargoes consisting of corn, animal feed, wheat and soybeans. The state's ports handle an estimated 60 percent of grain exports from Midwestern farmers and are a top importer of coffee, rubber, timber and containerized cargo.

"Louisiana, for a long time, has had all of this amazing potential. If you look at where it sits, if you look at where the highways run, if you look at where the Gulf is, on paper, it is tough to beat. It is different from the rest of the country."
- Dan Feibus, President & CEO, Zagis USA

When it comes time to find the best location for your operation, Louisiana has an extensive selection of development-ready sites searchable in its Sites and Buildings Database. LED's Certified Sites program further qualifies industrial sites based on zoning restrictions, title work, environmental studies, soil analysis and surveys.

According to a 50-state analysis by the Tax Foundation and KPMG: Location Matters: A Comparative Analysis of State Costs on Business, Louisiana ranks as the lowest tax burden for new capital-intensive manufacturing operations in the U.S. and the lowest tax burden for new labor-intensive manufacturing. The total effective tax rate is less than 1 percent.

Louisiana also provides a 10-year, 100 percent property tax exemption on industrial capital investments, single-sales factor income tax and corporate franchise tax apportionment for manufacturers and other competitive prospects; and a 100 percent annual rebate on inventory taxes.

LED administers highly competitive incentives to attract, grow and retain agribusiness operations throughout the state. In particular, the state's Quality Jobs program provides a 5 percent or 6 percent cash rebate of annual gross payroll for new, direct jobs that meet minimum qualifications, for up to 10 years.

Drax Biomass found Louisiana incentives advantageous and began talks with the state in January 2012 about its plans for a wood pellet facility. Drax is a development and operating company focused on manufacturing wood pellets for renewable, low-carbon power generation from sustainable biomass. The state offered Drax a custom incentive package that includes a $1.7 million Economic Development Loan Program commitment that will not require repayment if the company meets payroll performance obligations. Drax will receive the services of LED FastStart at no cost and is expected to use Louisiana's Quality Jobs and Industrial Tax Exemption program incentives as well.

Louisiana values business investment, and when you move or expand your agribusiness operations here, you can count on innovative solutions to meet your company's specific needs. LED has the ability to be agile and flexible — customizing incentives and workforce solutions, aligning state and local resources, connecting your company with valuable resources and coordinating permitting and startup activities to ensure that your operation proceeds smoothly and on schedule.

ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston
When ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston located its sweet potato processing facility in Louisiana, FastStart provided more than 16,500 hours of customized workforce recruitment, screening and training to the company during the project's initial phase, with additional services slated as an expansion comes online in 2014. ConAgra Lamb Weston also received support from the local community — the City of Delhi expanded its sewer and water capacity to accommodate the facility, and Richland Parish contributed funding toward an access road and other site infrastructure.

"Not only is the state of Louisiana known for its high-quality sweet potatoes, it offers a great environment for business and a skilled workforce."
- Jeff DeLapp, President (2002-2011), ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston

Environmental Permitting
Louisiana understands that a company's ability to ramp up quickly and efficiently is a significant factor in their location decision. To maximize time and efficiency for business, the state has created an expedited environmental permit-processing program, which enables Louisiana to issue permits more quickly and efficiently than just about any other state in the country.

"We feel that the expedited permit process has significantly shortened permit processing time, helping GP turn projects around often much faster than GP mills in neighboring states."
- Keith Wahoske, Vice President — Port Hudson Operations, Georgia-Pacific, LLC

  • Investment in the Forest Product Industry
    Form to request three investment prospectuses focused on different wood products manufactured in Louisiana which have been identified for growth and investment potential.

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