For the first time, a regional business magazine has named Baton Rouge as the best large city in the South for business growth. At the same time, Louisiana was honored as the best state for economic development for the fifth time in seven years.
Baton Rouge had been named the top midsized city for business growth by Southern Business & Development magazine several times. But the Capital Region moved up to the large city category after its population grew past 750,000. The rankings are based on economic development activity in 2012, with points being awarded for new and expansion projects that create more than 200 jobs or exceed $30 million in value.
“This recognition is further proof that the Capital Region is in a prime position to compete, not only with our southern peers, but also globally,” said Adam Knapp, president and CEO of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, said in a news release. “BRAC is proud of the synergy among the business, government and economic development organizations that has created the environment to receive these accolades.”
Southern Business & Development gave a special recognition to the Ascension Parish Economic Development Corp. The magazine noted that without the chemical and petrochemical projects that are going into Ascension, there was no way Baton Rouge would have been ranked as large city of the year.
Capital Region projects that counted toward Southern Business & Development’s totals included the $2.1 billion expansion of the CF Industries nitrogen plant in Donaldsonville, the $215 million expansion of ExxonMobil’s chemical and lubricants plants in Baton Rouge and Port Allen, and Methanex’s plans to spend $550 million to move a methanol production plant from Chile to Geismar. Methanex announced earlier this year it would move a second plant from Chile to Geismar.
Louisiana and Texas were named as states of the year by Southern Business & Development. While Texas had more significant projects in terms of value and job creation, Louisiana was far ahead in the number of quality new businesses and expansions per one million residents.
New Orleans earned an honorable mention in the large city category, while Lake Charles did the same in the mid-market category.