In its 2011 Governor's Cup awards, Site Selection also recognized several metro areas in Louisiana. Baton Rouge placed first among metropolitan areas with populations between 200,000 and 1 million. This is the second year in a row the Capital Region topped the Site Selection list in its category. Shreveport-Bossier City was tied for ninth place in the same category. Lake Charles was tied for fourth among metropolitan areas with populations between 50,000 and 200,000, and Morgan City was tied for eighth among micropolitan areas with populations between 10,000 and 50,000.
Gov. Bobby Jindal said, "This ranking is yet another example of Louisiana's strong economic momentum and positive business climate. By eliminating burdensome business taxes, reining in spending, overhauling ethics laws, and revamping our workforce development system, Louisiana now has one of the best business climates in the country. We've made great progress, but we must continue to make Louisiana more attractive to companies who want to expand or invest here, and that means pursuing bold education reforms to make sure we have a skilled workforce that is prepared for jobs in the 21st century workforce."
Since January 2008, the state has secured projects that are creating more than 46,500 new direct and indirect jobs and more than $10.5 billion in new capital investment, as well as hundreds of millions of dollars in new sales for small businesses across the state. Louisiana's second-consecutive Top 10 ranking resulted from dozens of major business development projects the state successfully secured in 2011, including expansions of existing companies in Louisiana and attraction of new companies to the state.
For example, CenturyLink in June 2011 announced a second major headquarters expansion since 2009 in Monroe and will create nearly 800 new jobs – on top of a previous commitment of 350 new jobs – along with an approximately $30 million capital investment. Gameloft announced the establishment of a major game development studio in New Orleans that will hire about 150 professionals. Ronpak Inc. selected Shreveport as the site of a new $17 million manufacturing plant with 175 new direct jobs.
Cheniere Energy and Sasol Ltd. announced plans for multibillion-dollar projects in liquefied natural gas (Cheniere) and gas-to-liquids refining (Sasol) in facilities near Lake Charles. Schumacher Group announced an expansion of its Lafayette headquarters that will result in 600 new direct jobs, along with additional headquarters office space and a new training facility. Sundrop Fuels Inc. announced it will build a $450 million advanced biofuels refinery near Alexandria and create 150 new direct jobs, including research and development positions. In Baton Rouge, Electronic Arts Inc. announced an expansion of its North American Test Center for video games, which will add 200 employees for a total of 600 jobs after EA moves into the new Louisiana Digital Media Center at LSU in the next year.
"Thanks to Louisiana's skyrocketing business climate rankings and our aggressive focus on economic development, our state continues to outperform the South and U.S.," said Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret. "We are particularly grateful to Gov. Jindal and the Louisiana Legislature for approving economic policy changes that have made Louisiana more competitive and providing the tools necessary for us to successfully compete with other states for new jobs and business investment. Our state's economic success is the result of both expansions of existing companies as well as the addition of new companies investing in Louisiana for the first time. Louisiana's economic future is very bright and getting brighter every day."
Site Selection's Governor's Cup rankings are based on the quantity of new and expanded facilities as tracked by Conway Data Inc.'s New Plant Database, which focuses on new corporate location projects with significant impact. It does not track retail and government projects, schools or hospitals. New facilities and expansions included in the rankings must meet at least one of three criteria: (1) capital investment of at least $1 million; (2) creation of at least 50 new jobs; or (3) new construction of at least 20,000 square feet.