While you may have heard the proud claim or seen the hash tag, you may be a bit surprised to learn about the interesting mix of manufacturing companies who call the Louisiana Central region “home.”
The Louisiana Central Manufacturing Managers Council represents more than 50 medium to large manufacturers throughout the region. With a blend of internationally recognized brands, hometown companies, and unique entrepreneurial firms operating in our 10-parish region, the range of products produced locally includes a broad line-up ranging from:
- Tide Pods™ to railroad tank cars
- Electric substations to world-renowned fishing lures
- Two-by-fours and OSB sheets to automated pharmaceutical packaging/delivery systems
- Custom valves and compressors to specialized chemicals
- (See Louisiana Central’s #WeMakeGoodStuff videos at louisiana-central.com/industry#pastwork to learn more about the variety of manufacturers in the region.)
Unexpected Career Options for Many
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 option for students in the area.
And that is exactly why Louisiana Central, the economic development organization formerly known as the Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance (CLEDA), is leading the region’s Manufacturing Month 2021 initiative.
Manufacturing Month 2021
In partnership with members of the Louisiana Central Manufacturing Managers Council as well the Central Louisiana Regional Chamber of Commerce, area K-12 educators, higher education partners and media outlets, the Louisiana Central team is working to expand the reach and impact of Manufacturing Month 2021 – despite challenges brought by health/safety concerns this year.
Manufacturing Month is designed to create awareness of and interest in manufacturing jobs for area students (High School/Adult Learners) and others who are considering a job change. By highlighting participating companies, Louisiana Central is working to increase understanding of career options for a successful future in manufacturing right here.
Added marketing support will showcase the initiative throughout the month of October. Information will be shared at a series of community meetings as well as through several media profiles and live broadcast interviews in the coming weeks. The media interviews are intended to further highlight the important role manufacturing plays in the 10 parishes within the Louisiana Central region (Allen, Avoyelles, Catahoula, Concordia, Grant, LaSalle, Natchitoches, Rapides, Vernon and Winn.)
A complete list of events and offerings can be found on the Louisiana Central website. For more information about participating manufacturing companies and higher education programs, please visit www.louisiana-central.com/manufacturing-month. Details will be updated throughout the month as any new offerings are confirmed.
Real-Time Options for Tomorrow’s Workforce
The next generation of talent, tomorrow’s workforce, is a high-priority focus for local manufacturers as well as those across the country. Regional manufacturers are eager to attract new candidates. They see Manufacturing Month as an ideal way to connect tomorrow’s workforce with meaningful career opportunities today.
High school graduates and/or students in technical courses and/or in four-year college programs are viable candidates and invited to participate in Manufacturing Month 2021 events throughout October.
With the growth many area firms have experienced in the last 18 months, there may be no better time to consider and explore the opportunities local manufacturers can provide.
Currently, open positions exist with smaller manufacturers and entrepreneurial firms as well as globally- recognized companies and brands. A career in manufacturing can provide fulfilling and lucrative options for career development.
Manufacturing’s Role in Louisiana
Louisiana’s manufacturing sector is a key component of the economic engine at both the state and local levels and currently it employs more than 126,000 people across the state. Through direct and indirect impact, these companies support and enable our local residents, communities and economies to have significant growth opportunities. Encouragingly, leading industry indicators point to continued growth in both job needs and wage ranges in the coming years.
“Manufacturing is a strong component of our regional economic engine and provides solid and perhaps unexpected opportunities for future careers. We invite any interested students, parents, teachers, advisors and residents to consider learning more about Manufacturing Month 2021 and the growing network of manufacturers who call our area home,” noted Lafe Jones, Executive Director of Industry Relations at Louisiana Central.
The manufacturers who call this area home have chosen to build, invest and live here because of the many resources that Louisiana Central offers as a region.
“Without question, the strongest draw in our area is the quality of our people, first and foremost. 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 our residents bring to work each day,” explained Larkin Simpson, Executive Vice President, Louisiana Central. “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 Air Park, 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 added, “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.”
A Look at Louisiana Central
The team at Louisiana Central focuses daily on growing jobs, opportunities and this region through a broad array of economic development initiatives within the 10-parish region known as Louisiana Central. The work includes a strategic blend of outreach, targeted pitches and proposals, relationship building, problem solving and extensive follow-up efforts across sectors and parishes. The office serves as a catalyst and central hub of connection, collaboration and commitment to improve the impact of economic development initiatives across the 10-parish region.
As a non-profit business-focused organization, Louisiana Central works with regional partners including those in higher education, elementary and secondary education, elected officials and governmental bodies, the Rapides and Orchard Foundations, the Central Louisiana Regional Chamber of Commerce, England Air Park, the ports on the Red and Mississippi Rivers, public utilities and a growing list of others.
Primary focus areas include:
- Targeting and attracting new business and new industry into the Louisiana Central region.
- Managing targeted marketing, lead generation, relationship development and detailed responses to proposal requests.
- Regularly collaborating with both regional and state partners.
- (Recruitment and expansion projects usually require a high degree of confidentiality during the development phase. At any given time, Louisiana Central will be working with dozens of industries and site selectors on projects. Only those that reach culmination are routinely announced or publicized.)
- Providing on-going support for local industries (large, small and entrepreneurial) to secure and strengthen their place in this market, address their needs and potentially expand their investments or operations here.
- Managing regular one-on-one site visits, sector meetings and focused problem solving, facilitating information and resources and connecting businesses to available expansion incentives.
- Workforce Development
- Actively serving as a primary link between higher education partners and the business community.
- Determining specific needs of current–and pending–businesses and delivering a range of options and solutions in terms of work-ready knowledge, skills and training.
- Tracking and supporting greater education attainment through Knowledge 2030: The Louisiana Central Decade of Learning.
- Expanding the area’s collective capacity for entrepreneurship, sustainability and innovation.
- Building innovation into the DNA of the region’s economy.
- Business Acceleration Systems (BAS)
- Functioning as Entrepreneurship Central for the region.
- Targeting small businesses with significant potential for growth.
- Helping entrepreneurs build their businesses through business coaching, developing strategic focus, learning operational skills, marketing, finance and other areas critical to business success.
- Building a network of like-minded entrepreneurs throughout the region.
- Food & Farm Initiatives
- Managing the Alexandria Farmers Market.
- Providing training and support to beginning farmers.
- Explores and develops opportunities for innovation in the Food & Farm sector.
- Managing a statewide Farm Fellows leadership development initiative.
- Blue Sky Initiatives
- Outdoor Recreation/Outdoor Central
– Building on the region’s remarkable outdoor recreation opportunities via strategic development, marketing and infrastructure investments.
– Training for the workforce and business skills needed to expand this focus area
– Managing an Outdoor Recreation Fellows leadership initiative.
- Midmarket Agriculture
– Assisting area farmers in the development of non-commodity, value-added crops.
– Scaling-up production to meet growing demand for regionally sourced, ethical and sustainable within the food system.
– Recruiting farmers from other states to grow value-added crops here because of our assets (long-growing season, fertile soil, and an abundance of water).
- To create and sustain on-going, long-term economic opportunity in the 10-parish region known as Louisiana Central.
- To best represent the region’s competitive assets and advantages to compete well and win the confidence and investment of existing and prospective businesses, entrepreneurs and investors.
- To grow quality jobs and opportunities and to, ultimately, grow the region and the quality of life found here.
- To raise median household income throughout the region.
- To position Louisiana Central as a uniquely creative, inclusive and entrepreneurial place that is home to a diverse and strong base of industry, entrepreneurs, farmers and creative types – all makers and market movers.
The Louisiana Central team includes:
- Jim Clinton, President & CEO
- Larkin Simpson, Executive Vice President
- Gary Perkins, Executive Director, Business Acceleration System
- Bahia Nightengale, Executive Director for Farm and Food
- Lafe Jones, Executive Director of Industry Relations
- Audrey Kolde, Director of Farm to Market Operations
- Sarah Ceballos, Administrative Director
- The Louisiana Central Region spans 10 Parishes: Allen, Avoyelles, Catahoula, Concordia, Grant, LaSalle, Natchitoches, Rapides, Vernon and Winn Parishes.
- Headquartered at the Center for Innovation and Prosperity—1302 Murray Street, Alexandria.
For more information on Louisiana Central, please contact the office or visit the website at www.louisiana-central.com.