We Want Some Of What Moret Is Having

Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret spoke to a breakfast put on by the Baton Rouge Business Report this morning, and he was more than a little enthusiastic. Moret painted a rosy picture of the state’s economic performance on the come for 2011, including what he says will be site-selection announcements for “mega projects” in a number of industries as the year goes along.

Moret also thinks we’ll see a rally in the oil patch by the summer, perhaps as a function of White House Global Warming Voodoo Czar Carol Browner’s recent career demise (though he didn’t explicitly mention Browner, the news she’s gone has many in the oil and gas business geeked up beyond measure today).

From the Business Report’s Daily Report today

Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret says the announcement of at least one, and possibly two, “mega projects” will underscore a year of economic development poised to outperform 2010. “(They) will be even bigger than the Nucor project,” Moret told the hundreds who attended Business Report’s 2011 Leadership Power Breakfast this morning. Ground will be broken on the Nucor Corp. iron and steel plant in St. James Parish as early as next month, Moret says. To be built in five phases through 2019, the project has potential to create 1,250 jobs and generate $3.5 billion in capital spending.

2011 will also see major announcements in the digital media, industrial chemical, aerospace, renewable energy and nuclear energy–components manufacturing industries, Moret says. Along with expansions of existing companies and re-starts of several industrial facilities that closed during the recession, the new projects could make Louisiana the first state in the South to see employment reach pre-recession levels this year, Moret says.

Oil drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico are also expected to make a “robust comeback” in the second half of 2011, Moret says, with a “new normal” in production expected in 2012. Moret says the timeline of regular permitting activities for gulf oil production and the national pace of recession recovery are the two biggest swing factors in his bullish forecast.

“2010 was a good year, but 2011 is going to be even better for the Capital Region and Louisiana,” Moret says. “We are repositioning Louisiana as the economic development powerhouse of the South, and no region in our state is playing a greater role in that than the Baton Rouge area.”

Sure hope Moret is right. If he is, it will certainly help his boss, Gov. Bobby Jindal, get re-elected (not that Jindal appears to need much help). One question does arise, though – and that’s whether Moret expects to get a big chunk of the state’s budget for use in tracking down some of these “mega projects,” as the Nucor plant carried a sizable price tag and so have some of the other “wins” Moret has scored for the state.

Then again, Moret just called 2010 a “good year.” We can’t deal with too many more “good years” like the one we just had. Louisiana’s economy went from a 6.2 percent unemployment rate before the Deepwater Horizon incident to 8.2 percent now.

Hopefully he was just putting a good face on things. If you’re speaking at a breakfast, you generally don’t want to depress your audience. They’ve still got a whole day’s worth of work to do.

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