La. tops list for business climate

Louisiana was ranked as having the best business climate of any state in the U.S. by Business Facilities magazine, which also ranked Baton Rouge and New Orleans high for economic growth potential.

Baton Rouge was ranked as having the second-best economic growth potential of any city in the U.S., behind only Austin, Texas. Last year, the city topped the Business Facilities list.

New Orleans was ranked as having the fifth-best economic potential. Mobile, Alabama, was third, and Salt Lake City was fourth.

In city rankings, Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport was rated as the fastest-growing airport in the U.S. New Orleans was also ranked first for port logistic leaders. New Orleans was ranked second for exports growth, and Baton Rouge was third in the category.

Business Facilities praised Baton Rouge for bringing together business and higher education in public-private partnerships, such as the agreement that led to the establishment of the IBM Service Center and the adjoining 525 Lafayette residential development, which are both being built downtown.

Those same public-private partnerships helped Louisiana finish on top of the business climate ranking, Business Facilities said.

Business Facilities, in Tinton Falls, New Jersey, based its annual rankings on an evaluation of successful growth strategies, diversification of growth sectors, recent projects and available incentives, among other factors. The magazine tracks site selection for economic development projects and showcases locations for businesses that are looking to expand, relocate and build new facilities.

“Pick a successful growth strategy other states are starting to replicate, and you’ll discover that Louisiana has made it work on a grand scale. Nowhere is this more evident than in the unprecedented cooperation between higher education resources and business in Louisiana,” the magazine wrote.

The state finished high in a number of other categories, including workforce training, exports, natural gas production, economic growth potential, infrastructure, lowest industrial electricity rates and lowest cost of labor, and lowest unemployment rates.