La. receives $1 million grant for international commerce

Louisiana’s Economic Development Department has been awarded a $1 million federal grant that will be used to create a master plan to help the state attract foreign investment and open export markets for local businesses.

The U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration announced the grant award Monday.

The grants are part of an Obama administration effort to double U.S. exports by 2015.

The grant funds will be used to support the development of the state’s first master plan for international commerce and implement the plan through marketing and technical assistance.

“This critical EDA investment will allow Louisiana to develop a plan that will help them capitalize on their unique assets to create new jobs through the attraction of foreign investment and increased exports,” Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said.

Stephen Moret, LED secretary, said the master plan is the first item for the Louisiana Board of International Commerce, a 23-member organization appointed by Gov. Bobby Jindal in March.

LED sees opportunities to boost the Louisiana economy by attracting foreign direct investment, pursuing manufacturing and other trade-related jobs that can be brought back to the U.S. from overseas, and to increase the amount of containerized and bulk cargo moving through Louisiana ports.

The master plan, along with separate projects to develop strategies for bringing back jobs from overseas and increasing bulk cargo, should be completed and approved by the state commerce board in January, Moret said.

Moret noted that Louisiana is already a national leader in export growth and foreign investment.

“We expect to build on our strong position substantially over the next few years, creating thousands of jobs in the process,” he said.

Louisiana’s worldwide exports increased 3.4 percent to a record $29 billion in the first six months of 2013, compared with the same period in 2012.

The World Trade Center of New Orleans said recently that Louisiana’s principal export markets through the second quarter were Mexico, $3.26 billion; China, $2.58 billion; and Singapore, $1.53 billion. They were followed by Japan, Canada, Brazil, the Netherlands, Panama, Egypt and France