La. leads nation in exports

06 20, 2012 by Daily Advertiser

Louisiana leads the nation in exports and its policies have created an enticing tax climate that has attracted businesses and spurred job growth, according to a new report released by the National Chamber Foundation on Tuesday.

The National Chamber Foundation, an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, studied the policies, priorities and programs of the 50 states and Puerto Rico and ranked them on how they have built economic momentum in a report titled "Enterprising States 2012."

Louisiana garnered six top three rankings — No. 1 export state, No. 2 in tax climate for new firms, No. 2 in per capita income growth, No. 2 in growth in share of national exports, No. 3 in export intensity and No. 3 in export intensity growth. Export intensity measured the value of exports based on the size of state economies and the importance of exports to a state's economy.

"Louisiana being a leader in the energy and petrochemical industry and having some of the top ports in the nation contributed significantly to the state's No. 1 rank for exports by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce," said Gregg Gothreaux, president of the Lafayette Economic Development Authority.

Oil is Louisiana's top export, along with other energy products and agriculture, according to the report. In the Lafayette area, oilfield products such as manufactured parts for drilling activity, specialty chemicals and food products such as Tobasco and rice are big exports, Gothreaux said.

"When looking at Lafayette's recent top rankings in job growth, income growth and GDP growth, we undoubtedly had a considerable impact on the state's overall standings. Over the last 20 years, the state has taken a pro-business approach to taxation and economic development, molding Louisiana into a national leader," he said. "In

recent years, Louisiana economic development has shifted its focus to business rankings and their importance in improving the perceptions and realities of doing business with and in the state."

The report noted that Louisiana has been rebounding from the economic impact of the recession through its exports, strong energy sector and commitment to investments in building a more diversified economic base.

A key goal of Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration has been building up the state's workforce development system, according to the report. "The state's Quality Jobs Tax Credit program, extended for six years in 2011, continues to be an important tool in Louisiana's job-creation efforts," the report stated. "Businesses in targeted growth industries are eligible for rebates on qualified payroll expenses, sales tax rebates on capital investments and other investment tax credits."

Former state Sen. Mike Michot, R-Lafayette, authored the Quality Jobs Tax Credit program in 2011 and said the law created job creation incentives and incentives for businesses to offer benefits to employees.

"It's a great program. Obviously, it's working because we wouldn't be receiving this recognition from the U.S Chamber if it wasn't," Michot said. "I think economic experts have realized that it's one of the most valuable tools in our tool chests in that it incentivizes businesses to hire employees and encourage businesses to give them these benefits."

The report also listed Louisiana as No. 4 in college affordability, No. 4 in export growth, No. 7 in business closure rate, No. 7 for short-term job growth, No. 9 for job placement efficiency, No. 10 for best tax environment for mature firms, No. 14 in economic output per job, No. 16 in higher-education efficiency, No. 17 in cost of living, No. 17 for entrepreneurial activity, No. 20 in business birth rate, No. 22 in science-technology-engineering-and-math job growth and No. 24 in long-term job growth.