You may not realize that the heart of Louisiana, Central Louisiana, is the home to several leading manufacturing companies. Our hashtag, #WeMakeGoodStuff, isn’t just a catchy phrase. It’s one way of communicating that our local communities are where many manufacturing companies and their teams choose to live, work, and play, while manufacturing essential products sold throughout the world and providing jobs for those who live here. The Louisiana Central Manufacturing Council represents more than 50 medium to large manufacturers throughout the region and includes a blend of internationally recognized brands, hometown companies, and unique entrepreneurial firms operating in our 10-parish region. As Louisiana Central’s Executive Vice President, Larkin Simpson, states, “Here, we work with our hands, hearts, intelligence, and creativity. This region’s identity as makers is the thread which weaves through and binds the region. We truly make good stuff in Central Louisiana.”
WE MAKE GOOD STUFF
“We value every job in the region: they all matter,” states Jim Clinton, President and CEO of Louisiana Central, “but from an economic development standpoint, we focus disproportionately on jobs associated with our economic drivers. We particularly want to retain, grow, and create businesses that have two primary characteristics: (1) They are in what are termed ‘traded sectors’; that is, they export goods and services outside the region and import cash into the region. (2) The revenue from these businesses reverberates through the regional economy and generates what is commonly referred to as a ‘multiplier effect’. This simply means that each job within such a sector causes other jobs to be created.”
Jim continues to explain, “Companies engaged in manufacturing meet both of these criteria. For that reason alone, they are to be treasured, celebrated, and nurtured. The best news right now is that manufacturing jobs in the Louisiana Central region are projected to grow significantly faster than the national average in the next few years.” The local manufacturing industry provides high-paying and rewarding jobs for thousands in our region. The range of products produced locally includes a broad line-up ranging from:
- Tide Pods to railroad tank cars;
- Electric substations to wood pellets used for energy production;
- Two-by-fours and OSB sheets to automated pharmaceutical packaging/delivery systems;
- Custom valves and compressors to specialized chemicals.
While this only represents a partial list of products made here and related work done in the 10-parish region, it demonstrates the breadth of businesses and related jobs/opportunities that can be an ideal, if perhaps unexpected, future career options for students in the area. You can check out some of our region’s manufacturers by viewing Louisiana Central’s #WeMakeGoodStuff videos at www.louisiana-central.com/industry.
The products created, the people behind the innovation, and the opportunities for future generations are why Louisiana Central—the economic development organization formerly known as the Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance (CLEDA)—is focused on supporting and growing the region’s manufacturing sector. In addition to regular onsite meetings with area manufacturing managers, Louisiana Central coordinates the LA Central Manufacturing Council and is facilitating the region’s 2022 Manufacturing Month initiative. For Louisiana Central, another goal of recognizing Manufacturing Month throughout the month of October is to bridge gaps in communication so that students, teachers, and parents are engaged and excited about manufacturing career opportunities in Central Louisiana.
MANUFACTURING MONTH 2022
Manufacturing Month is dedicated to informing students, counselors, and teachers of diverse career paths and high-wage earning jobs available at local manufacturing facilities throughout October. Louisiana Central is partnering with members of the Central Louisiana Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Natchitoches Parish Chamber of Commerce, area K-12 educators, higher education institutions, and media outlets to promote and provide opportunities for middle and high school students to learn about the manufacturing process. This year, over ten manufacturers are participating in some way.
Manufacturing Month is designed to create awareness of, and interest in, manufacturing jobs for area students and others who could be considering a career change. By highlighting participating companies, Louisiana Central is working to increase understanding of career options available in the local manufacturing industry.
“Our local manufacturers are eager to open their doors to schools and community members for tours and events throughout October. Going inside a plant and seeing how things operate allows students to learn about things created in their community and see themselves in careers they may never have considered,” said Javonti Thomas, Program Coordinator at Louisiana Central. “Our goal is to expose students to our local manufacturing industry to show that amazing, rewarding jobs are available in your home community.”
The manufacturing industry is a big component of Louisiana’s economy— contributing nearly 40 million dollars annually. Louisiana manufacturers employ over 130,000 workers making up about 7 percent of the workforce. Central Louisiana is a prime location for the manufacturers looking to set up operations but also for expansion. Nearly 10,000 residents of the region work for a manufacturer. Average salaries for Central Louisiana manufacturing jobs are more than $70,000 per year.
“We have had a record number of local manufacturers make new investments and create new jobs this last year,” Lafe Jones, Executive Director of Industry Relations said. “Our existing manufacturers in the 10-parish region are critical to our economic growth. Louisiana Central’s team does everything we can to help keep them here and help them grow. Our communities realize that other cities, states, regions, and countries are trying to attract our manufacturers to their regions, so we all have to work together to support them and continue to make this a place where they want to do business, make new investments, and add new jobs.”
“Without question, the strongest draw in our area is the quality of our people, first and foremost,” claims Larkin Simpson. “Whether they are considering this area for new or expanded operations, we consistently hear company decision makers respond well to the willingness, values, and well-known work ethic that our residents bring to work each day. Our people are happy to work and live here, to play a role in their communities, and to enjoy and appreciate what the area offers in terms of a reasonable cost of living, extensive outdoor recreation, and mild weather for much of the year.”
From an operations perspective, this region offers established and easily accessible transport options that hold significant appeal to the vast majority of manufacturers. Local assets include our central location, north-south and east-west highway access, England Airpark, Class One railroad service, and multiple ports on the Red and Mississippi Rivers. These transportation options make the region strategically attractive for manufacturers that need to move materials, supplies, products, etc. across the country.
Simpson adds, “While the value of our people and the transportation/logistics options represent two components of many, the broader package of resources we can offer in the Louisiana Central region generally appeals to business leaders and location decision makers alike, which can lead to a win-win for all involved.”
In addition, strong partnerships with education partners has established a workforce ready community for current and future industry needs—something appealing to companies currently operating in the area. Business leaders also recognize the importance of relationships that help provide meaningful connections when growing and maintaining a company. Access to supporting organizations such as the Louisiana Central Manufacturing Council is another impactful incentive for company leaders choosing to build and expand here.
All across Cenla, #WeMakeGoodStuff!