Bobby Jindal: Our Economy Is Strong


Our economy is strong
By Gov. Bobby Jindal
Published Dec 20, 2012 at 9:00 am

Sasol, Benteler, Sutherland, GE Capital, Drax, Pixomondo, Oceaneering. Remember those names. They are just some of the companies that announced this year they are making game-changing investments in Louisiana to create thousands of jobs for our people.

In 2012 alone, we have announced projects that will result in over 24,000 new jobs and more than $18 billion in capital investment, bringing our five-year total to more than 63,000 new jobs and more than $28 billion in new capital investment. Indeed, across Louisiana, we've announced economic development wins in the energy, technology, film, digital media and manufacturing industries that are diversifying and growing Louisiana's economy.

In Westlake, Sasol is investing between $16 and $21 billion in an integrated (gas-to-liquids) and ethane cracker complex that will create over 7,000 direct and indirect jobs. This is the largest manufacturing investment in Louisiana's history and one of the largest foreign direct investments in our country's history.

In northwest Louisiana, Benteler chose our state over more than a dozen others to invest $900 million at the Port of Caddo-Bossier to develop a two-phase facility that will include both a seamless steel tube mill and a steel mill. This project will create more 2,200 direct and indirect jobs.

After looking at hundreds of cities, GE Capital chose New Orleans for the creation of a new IT Center of Excellence that will result in over 600 direct and indirect jobs. In Baton Rouge, Pixomondo has a new visual effects studio that will result in more than 120 new direct and indirect jobs.

Drax Biomass International will be investing more than $120 million to build a wood pellet facility in northeast Louisiana and a storage-and-shipping facility at the Port of Greater Baton Rouge. This project will result in over 200 direct and indirect jobs.

In central Louisiana, Sutherland Global Services is opening a business process outsourcing center that will result in roughly 1,000 direct and indirect jobs. Around the bayou, Oceaneering International is making a $5 million capital investment to expand production of the company's product: remotely operated vehicles. This win will result in over 600 direct and indirect jobs.

The list of job wins goes on and on, but the bottom line is that companies are investing in Louisiana because of our strong business climate and our incomparable workforce. Louisiana—a state that once lagged behind in business climate rankings—now ranks in the top 10 of three major national business climate rankings.

We have been among the top 10 states for private sector job growth since 2008. Per capita personal income has increased by more than $2,700 in the last four years. Most importantly, for the past four years in a row, more people are now moving into Louisiana than moving out, reversing a trend of more than two decades where we were losing our sons and daughters to other states.

None of this happened by accident. We've cut taxes, revamped our workforce training program, passed tough new ethics laws, passed bold and transformative education reforms, and have streamlined state government to make it more effective and less expensive for taxpayers. We've made great progress, but we cannot rest on our laurels. In order to keep fostering an environment where businesses want to invest, we need to make our business climate even stronger.

The next step is an overhaul of our tax code. Our tax code is too complex, too littered with loopholes, and too burdensome on families and businesses. We need to make our tax code fairer, flatter and simpler for Louisiana families and businesses. Unquestionably, there will be some who see tax reform as an opportunity to raise taxes on hardworking families and small businesses, but that's exactly the wrong approach. Make no mistake—this will not be an effort to raise revenue and grow government. Instead, we must revamp our tax code in order to spur more private-sector job growth. That's our mission for the upcoming year.

I want to make two things very clear as 2012 comes to a close. First, without a doubt, this past year has been a strong year for Louisiana's economy. Unemployment is down, business climate rankings are up, and the private sector is expanding. Second, and just as important, we've still got work to do to make Louisiana the best place in the world for businesses to invest and create jobs.


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