La. economic development bill ‘strategic and sustainable’

Published 7:50 pm Monday, June 17, 2024

Gov. Jeff Landry has signed a bill that will change the way Louisiana Economic Development does business. HB494 has been called the “Positioning Louisiana to Win” bill and follows the recommendations of a study commissioned by the Committee 100, a private, nonprofit organization whose members include CEOs of leading private and public companies and Louisiana university presidents.

Heather Hohensee, Tellurian government and public affairs director, is one of the Committee 100. She said changes will make a “real difference in how Louisiana approaches economic development.”

“For the first time, the agency is adopting a comprehensive approach modeled after proven best practices in other states to build a meaningful and lasting economic development plan,” she said. “LED processes are being streamlined to improve efficiencies, to operate at the speed of business” (as opposed to the speed of government).

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The agency will prioritize regional and private sector collaboration. The improved coordination and faster engagement will help Louisiana attract new industry and business.

Hohensee said she thinks the inclusive “region up” approach, as opposed to a Baton Rouge-down approach, is the change that will have the most impact.

“Each region in the state will have the opportunity to inform LED regarding their unique assets, assets that appeal to new and existing business and industries,” she said. It’s strategic and sustainable.

“Incremental economic growth will be best achieved by first supporting industries that have historically spearheaded and continue to spearhead our region’s positive economic landscape,” Hohensee said. “We can then leverage our strong economic base to attract new and diverse economic development.”

The bill eliminates two department posts, establishes a new advisory committee charged with developing long-term economic development plan for the state, directs the department to seek federal and private grants, loosens the parameters for Louisiana Development Corporation board member appointments and authorizes the department to institute its own IT procurement process, according to a report from the Illuminator.        

In addition to Heather Hohensee, other Committee 100 members representing the Southwest Louisiana region are Gray Stream, president Stream Companies; Mary Leach Werner, director and vp, Sweet Lake Land & Oil Company; Kim Cusimano, Sasol senior manager, America’s Corporate Affairs; Kristian Pancho, Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana; Glen Pumpelly, Pumpelly Tires owner; and Matt Barr, senior vp, government affairs, Cheniere Energy.