Louisiana Well Positioned for Growth in 2013

New Orleans SkylineICSCAs the International Council of Shopping Center’s (ICSC’s) State Director for Louisiana, I recently contributed an article for our Quarterly Membership Newsletter that I’d like to share.  Read the article below about how well the State of Louisiana has been performing compared to the nation:

It is hard to believe that 2012 is already more than a month behind us. What an exciting time to be in the real estate industry and more specifically the retail segment of the industry. As we enter into 2013, new retail activity in our state continues to be on the rise and the industry has exciting and prosperous times ahead of us. I do not know anyone in our business locally that is not looking at a full pipeline of activity for the coming year. We should consider ourselves extremely blessed to be working in markets that have performed so well over the past few years.

Consider how well the State of Louisiana has performed over the last few years, in contrast to much of the nation.

Employment performance has been significant. At 5.5%, Louisiana’s December 2012 seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate is at a four-year low, tied for 11th lowest rate in the nation and well below the 7.2% Southern average and 7.8% U.S. average. Louisiana’s private sector added 26,800 jobs over the year, extending the state’s streak of private sector employment gains to 28 consecutive months. Compared to the U.S., Louisiana is one of just six states with more jobs now than before the national recession began; and since the official end of the national recession in June 2009, Louisiana has added jobs at a faster rate than both the South and the U.S.

Louisiana’s population is also growing according to the U.S. Census Bureau, experiencing five straight years of net population in-migration, with more people moving to the state than leaving. Louisiana netted over 20,000 people in the last four years and the in-migration gains are largely the result of the state’s economic performance. Compare that to the 15-year period from 1990 to 2005, when the state experienced net domestic out-migration of more than 7,500 people every single year, and one can quickly appreciate how much things have changed. Also, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population growth rate over the last five years through July 1, 2012, was about 23 percent faster in Louisiana than that of the U.S. overall.

Economic competitiveness is reaching new heights. In 2012, Louisiana experienced its best year for business development in the last five years, securing more jobs and investment than in any of the previous four years. The state increased its recruitment of new jobs (up 17 %, to more than 24,000) and its attraction of new capital investment (up 24 %, to $22.3 billion) over the strong performance of 2011. It is incredible that this was achieved against the backdrop of a relatively stagnant U.S. economy. The best is yet to come, according to LED Secretary Stephen Moret. He predicts Louisiana will have at least $50 billion to $60 billion worth of new manufacturing projects under way over the next three to four years, many of which will be announced during the coming 12 to 18 months. In its 2012 economic outlook report, the American Legislative Exchange Council again ranked Louisiana’s economic outlook among that of the top 20 states in the U.S.

Louisiana’s business climate is also improving and people are starting to take notice. In the last five years, Louisiana has improved to its highest-ever position in every major national ranking of state business climates, with no other state exhibiting more improvement. CEOs nationwide voted Louisiana the most improved state for business over the last four years, according to Chief Executive. Louisiana ranked 7th in Site Selection’s business climate report in 2012 and 2011, up from 9th in 2010 and 25th in 2009. Area Development ranked Louisiana #6 among the top states for doing business, ranking #1 in the U.S. for cooperative state government and top 5 for incentives, economic recovery, speed of permitting, workforce training, cost of doing business, business climate and labor climate. Business Facilities ranked Louisiana #5 best business climate in America and Pollina Corporate Real Estate ranked Louisiana’s business climate #16 in 2012, up 24 spots since 2008. Additionally in 2012, the state ranked 2nd in the U.S. (1st in the south) for providing the lowest business tax burden for new firms and 10th in the U.S. (3rd in the south) for mature firms, according to the Tax Foundation.

Significant employment performance, population growth, strong economic competitiveness, and a nationally recognized, improving business climate in Louisiana has well positioned the state as the nation seeks sustained growth in 2013. All of this is good news for retail. And good news for us.