More new jobs expected for local economy in 2013

Thursday, January 3, 2013 - 11:10pm

After a couple of slow years, the local economy is on the rise, and local business development experts believe 2013 will continue the upward trend.

"We had an incredible year for economic development outcomes last year," according to Adam Knapp, the president and CEO of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber.

Thirteen companies announced projects in the past year to expand or bring their operations to the Capitol Area, which will bring a total of 1,100 jobs.

"It's an astounding number: $3.5 billion in capital investment," Knapp said of the new projects.

Those companies also brought higher-paying jobs than in years past, with an average salary of $69,000.

Most of the area's expansion came either from petrochemical companies or digital media. But the success of those firms is likely bring even more new businesses to the area in the future.

"We've seen one to two digital media wins per year. We had three last year," Knapp said. "And we can expect, I think, to see that rate of landing digital media companies that want to be here accelerating."

Manufacturing jobs have increased steadily because companies see that it is cheaper to operate here than elsewhere.

"Low natural gas prices," Knapp said, "have put the U.S., and the Baton Rouge area, specifically, in a very competitive position."

For those parts of the region that have seen less growth, BRAC says pre-certification is going to be very important. It will let companies know that sites have already been approved as environmentally ready by the state, so they would not have to spend extra time or money to move in.

"Pointe Coupee, as an example, certified a number of sites this past year, (and) were very aggressive at making sure they had increased industrial sites in their parish," Knapp said. "And we expect to see that pay off for them."

Knapp says the industries BRAC plans to target in the year to come include technology consulting, engineering and design, and companies that specialize in back office support.

Outsourcing could be the next trend that brings new jobs into the region.

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