Here’s Some Good Economic News For Louisiana, But…

it might not be wise to take the lessons from it that Gov. John Bel Edwards and Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson want you to.

Louisiana is ranked at number 2 in the South for the strongest economic development results in 2017.

The high ranking by Southern Business and Development magazine was based on the state’s share of leading capital investment and job creation projects.

Louisiana is ranked number 2 in the South behind Kentucky in leading capital investment and job creation projects.

Don Pierson, Secretary of Economic Development, at the Louisiana Economic Development says thanks to a strong industrial field.

“There is a real industrial renaissance going on, on the river corridor between Baton Rouge and New Orleans related to advanced chemical manufacturing,” Pierson said.

And the historic growth happening in the Lake Charles area.

“This is a great benchmarking note for us that we are indeed establishing some strong economic momentum in our state as we seek to grow the economy here,” Pierson noted.

That ranking is based on what looks like the tail end of the industrial boom in the state which happened mostly during and because of the Jindal administration, when well over $100 billion in capital investment flowed into the state’s petrochemical sector along the Mississippi south of Baton Rouge and in the Lake Charles area. Those were the state’s only two growth markets – the rest of Louisiana is either stagnant (New Orleans, Alexandria, Monroe) or completely down the tubes (Shreveport, Houma/Thibodaux, Lafayette).

And those projects driving that ranking are being completed, mostly within the next year or two. When they’re finished and all the construction jobs they’ve created dry up, we’ll need something else in the pipeline to keep those jobs in the state – because the jobs in those petrochemical plants currently being built are good ones, but it usually takes more people to build a plant than to run one.

What’s that economic engine to keep fueling the industrial construction engine going to be? That’s the question nobody seems to want to answer.

Louisiana’s tax environment, which Edwards continues to say is the fifth least burdensome in the country, has gotten worse during his time as governor. That “fifth lowest tax burden” claim comes from a 2012 Tax Foundation study which was based on the tax rates of the Jindal administration. Those tax rates no longer prevail in Louisiana. This year a WalletHub survey of the current comparative tax burden put Louisiana as 27th, not 45th. Edwards is taking credit for a Jindal achievement he has reversed, which is a dastardly bit of dishonesty no one in the state’s legacy media has the stones or integrity to call out.

And moreover, Edwards blew open the Industrial Tax Exemption Program (ITEP) by subjecting the incentives it provides to the whims of local politicians and the leftist activists like the Louisiana Budget Project and Together Louisiana who publicly assail them. As such, site selectors now generally regard ITEP as worthless in calculating Louisiana’s competitiveness with Texas, Florida, Alabama and other neighboring states – on its face ITEP may offer some tax relief for a company interested in building a facility here, but when the local political hacks start getting involved it’s all but definite that to access any ITEP benefits will involve the usual old-school payoffs and shakedowns.

Moreover, here’s a question to ask Edwards amid his crowing about facility construction projects for which the contracts were signed before he took office – if Louisiana was such an attractive place to do business last year that this ranking isn’t an anomaly, how come the state’s economy shrunk and performed worse than any other in America?

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