Displaced residents still need new or rebuilt homes; corporations are relocating; children require schooling; cleanup of environmental hazards needs priority â?¦ the staggering list goes on and on.
There's a lot of work to do, and state officials know it. They're promoting that fact on an unprecedented scale, with ingenious advertising inserts explaining what kind of work is available ' as well as their related incentives ' in national publications like Business Week, Entrepreneur and Forbes. Ads have also been designed for the Web sites of CNN and The Economist. Like a coupon for free money, the ads are working; after years of worrying about Louisiana's business reputation and restrictive laws, companies are starting to regard Louisiana as a hot prospect.
But once the rebuilding process slows down, will any of these companies stick around?
Louisiana Economic Development officials argue that the wide variety of tax breaks and assistance programs will entice companies to stay. The business stimulants set the stage for a productive future, and the state's new "open for business" philosophy, in tandem with long-term incentives beyond recovery, only bolsters the belief.
This amalgam is partly what lured Virginia-based Booz Allen Hamilton to south Louisiana this year. It's not your average mom-and-pop outfit; the strategy, management and technology consulting firm employs 17,000 people on six continents and generates roughly $3.6 billion in annual sales. Unlike other companies wanting to cash in on debris removal or other manual labor jobs paid for directly by residents, Booz Allen is trying to drum up business directly with the state, says Bill McDade, a senior associate. The company is already making its rounds to the Louisiana Recovery Authority, Louisiana Economic Development and the governor's office and considering opening an office in Baton Rouge.
Presently, Booz Allen has a Metairie office with 50 employees, which pulls in an estimated $6 million in revenues each year. This office is strictly dedicated to federal contracts, such as the one Booz Allen has with the Minerals Management Service to help streamline offshore drilling leases.
But the Baton Rouge office is where the company's future could possibly reside, and it will be committed solely to state contract work.
"There is an incredible amount of money moving through the state right now," McDade says. "A week after the hurricane hit, we started to do business development offsite and strategizing on our next step, and that major play was state work."
The leap would have come sooner, he adds, but the company had always been slightly worried about age-old perceptions of the state and, frankly, threatened by certain contract laws. For instance, McDade points to an indemnity clause that Louisiana uses to wiggle out of paying vendors if they don't like the work.
"When you look at the bottom line and get into large contracts, that can be a risky proposition," McDade says, adding he has received commitments from the state to possibly work around that clause.
Additionally, the process of rebuilding has placed Louisiana in the national spotlight, he says, and that attention helps serve as a catalyst for corporate responsibility. Donald M. Pierson Jr., assistant secretary of Louisiana Economic Development, says this type of story has been retold countless times since last fall. Due to the hurricanes, companies that would have never considered Louisiana are now working with the state.
While some observers worry the new businesses might be fly-by-night and could pack up after a short stay, Pierson doesn't have a concerned bone in his body.
"Some of these companies are traveling a long way, and they are nationally respected companies that haven't been able to do large scale business with us before," Pierson says. "But in this moment of history, we need all the engineering and technical expertise we can get to speed up recovery. They are welcomed, and they will continue working with us."
Pierson says LED has beefed up its outreach program and is keeping track of new businesses. The department is also making the companies aware of all the incentives available to the state, like Community Block Grant funding and the almighty Gulf Opportunity Zone Act ("Pass the Go Zone," May 10), which provides tax-free borrowing, a slew of write-offs, depreciations and much more.
There are 31 parishes eligible to participate in the Go Zone program, and Pierson says companies are targeting them with a vengeance.
"I think we're going to continue to see a vast number of major U.S. corporations demonstrating a new or renewed interest in doing business with the state," he says. "All of these incentives will help companies that want to make a major investment in Louisiana to put themselves in a favorable position to take advantage of the market."
Anticipation of this declaration was building earlier this month as U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez, along with Donald Powell, the federal coordinator for Gulf Coast Rebuilding, visited Baton Rouge and New Orleans as part of a major investment mission.
"This is really great," Pierson says. "I mean, when you hear about an economic mission, it's usually to another country or something, but the focus is on Louisiana."
A delegation of 37 companies attended the mission, including major Fortune 500 companies and small-sized enterprises. In addition to promoting the incentives, Pierson says an effort was placed on ports, transportation infrastructure and natural resources.
McDade agrees that momentum continues to build, and he's glad Booz Allen is coming in relatively early. He says it would be an unwise business decision for companies to leave the market in the near future. "We're focused on expanding in southeast Louisiana and are dedicated from a personal standpoint," McDade says. "Our employees and partners live in Louisiana, and we want to see both flourish once again."
The fight to clean up Lafayette Parish could get some added ammunition with two ordinances up for votes Tuesday by the City-Parish Council targeting litter-bugs.
By striking a deal to lessen the blow of health insurance changes on state workers, school employees and retirees, Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration lowered the volume of criticism but gave itself and local school boards a new budget headache.
With the airport tax coming up for a parishwide vote in about a week, the Broussard City Council and its mayor have come out in support of the proposal.
Protesters rallied peacefully in several Louisiana cities in the wake of the Missouri grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the fatal shooting of Michal Brown.
US cities bidding on Olympics; Guard prevents more Ferguson riots; storm threatens travel and more national and international news for Wednesday, November 26, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
The U.S. rep billed LSU for work allegedly performed on the same days Congress voted on major legislation and held important committee hearings on energy and the ACA.
Abysmally low participation by the public has prompted the council to scuttle the 2014 survey with plans to simplify it and try again next year.
The village now says the ordinance will likely be overturned and authorities will more vigorously enforce existing leash laws.
Bill Cassidy cast an early ballot Tuesday, seeking to draw renewed attention to a race that has fallen off newspaper front pages and away from people's minds as they plan holiday meals and shopping schedules.
Battered all night by Baltimore's relentless pass rush, Drew Brees could feel his protection collapsing and Terrell Suggs getting ahold of him as he urgently unloaded a pass to the right flat toward tight end Jimmy Graham.
After a convincing defeat at the polls on Nov. 4, Earl “Nickey” Picard has decided to let bygones be bygones with his former right-hand man Brian Pope, announcing his support for his former employee’s runoff bid to become Lafayette’s next city marshal.
Saturday the athletic department did everything possible to ensure the 2014 Ragin’ Cajun seniors remembered fondly their last home game. Rain and lightning never arrived but turbulence did in the form of the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
Even stranger than the Republican Party’s decision to hold a “unity rally” earlier this month for Congressman Bill Cassidy in a Baton Rouge bar, Huey’s Bar, was the fact that the establishment was named after Louisiana’s most famous Democrat.
Bar Code is not a gay bar.
After failing to pass a medical marijuana bill last year, state Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, is telling supporters he will return in 2015 with legislation that focuses on different applications like oils and pills.
Voters, obviously, are not yet tuned into the 2015 ballot, despite the intriguing races it will host.
By now, the story of how longtime LSU coach Dale Brown discovered Shaquille O'Neal has been told many times: Brown happened upon a massive 13-year-old at an army base in Germany, stayed in touch with him and eventually became like a second father.
Fate simply wasn't ready to give the New Orleans Saints a break from longtime nemesis Steve Smith.
Lafayette Police have had a busy day.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration will use $130 million in patchwork financing from a tax amnesty program, insurance settlement, uninsured motorist penalties and other excess funds to close most of the state's midyear budget deficit.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said she disagrees with President Barack Obama's actions on immigration, hoping the latest controversy doesn't worsen her campaign difficulties.
Gay-rights advocates challenging Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban announced Thursday that they have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review their case before it is heard by a federal appeals court.
Thinking himself the “son of God,” the man charged with the 2013 killing of an officer of the Chitimacha Tribal Police will not stand trial following a ruling Thursday on his mental competency.
Either Saints coach Sean Payton doesn't want to tip Baltimore off as to who'll start in New Orleans' secondary on Monday night, or he really doesn't know yet.