Louisiana chief economic officer Stephen Moret. (Associated Press)
Last Modified: Thursday, September 12, 2013 9:53 AM
The state’s chief economic development officer said the outlook for Southwest Louisiana is “amazingly positive,” with the region competing for yet another round of major manufacturing projects within the next year.
“As things go forward, the future keeps looking better and better for this area,” state Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret told the American Press editorial board on Wednesday.
Some of the top energy and chemical companies based outside of the United States are facing significant structural changes in their economics because of what’s happened with shale gas in the United States, he said. Overseas companies are looking to shift more of their capacity to the U.S., particularly Southwest Louisiana, he said.
More than $47 billion in projects has already been announced in Southwest Louisiana, adding 5,000 permanent jobs and thousands more indirect jobs over the next five years, Moret said.
He said gross domestic product growth in Louisiana over the last five years has been 50 percent better than U.S. GDP growth. And over that five-year period, he said, Southwest Louisiana has been the second-fastest-growing part of the state.
Moret dubbed right now as the “calm before a good storm.”
He said the region needs to stay focused on site development — particularly in the rural areas of parishes surrounding Calcasieu.
He also noted that within the next few months, the state will implement an updated import/export tax credit that will directly benefit the Port of Lake Charles. Moving forward, state officials will focus on workforce development ahead of business development. He said he wants to “aggressively work to diversify the economy.”
He commended efforts by the Southwest Louisiana Task Force for Growth and Opportunity, or Go Group, to prepare for the looming population increase.