Bora Ozkan – Louisiana
The state of Louisiana is a resource-rich region located in the southern U.S. on the Gulf of Mexico. It is a major source of U.S. petroleum and refined petroleum products, natural gas, petrochemicals, forest-products, agricultural crops, salt, sulfur and seafood. Louisiana is strategically located astride the mouth of the Mississippi River.
Its location makes it the natural gateway into the heavily industrialized Mississippi River Valley and it is also the logical point of export for much of the goods and produce of the American Midwest. Louisiana's resources and key location have made it a region favored by international investors almost from its founding by the French some 300 years ago.
Today, international holdings in the state total nearly $21 billion, the ninth largest international investment among the states. Louisiana's six deep water ports handle more than 457 million tons of U.S. waterborne commerce a year, including nearly half of all American grain exports. Four of the eleven largest U.S. ports (in foreign commerce tonnage) are in Louisiana. In addition to grain, other cargoes include chemicals, coal and general cargo. Some 100 steamship lines and barge companies serve to more than 4,500 seagoing vessels and 100,000 barges that ply the state's waterways each year. Trade is conducted with 191 countries around the world.
Among Louisiana's best known attractions are its jazz music -- invented and first played here -- and its Cajun and Creole cuisines. Other Louisiana tourist attractions include outstanding hunting and freshwater and deepwater fishing, thousands of miles of rivers and bayous and hundreds of lakes for boating, water skiing and sailing; camping, hiking and canoeing and several dozen plantation homes and historical sites. More than a hundred festivals are held each year to celebrate crop harvests and forestry, the blessing of the fishing fleets and dozens of foods and ethnic groups.
Fifteen months after the devastating effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, considerable progress has been made toward rebuilding the New Orleans area's infrastructure and reviving the economy. There is still a great deal more to be done, with many challenges and attractive opportunities ahead. Louisiana is moving forward. Billions of dollars are being invested statewide and as these public and private funds stream into the state, forward-thinking entrepreneurs, opinion leaders and decision makers see Louisiana as a state of opportunity. The unprecedented incentives available in Louisiana are generating extraordinary interest for capital investment. Louisiana is also a major source of U.S. petroleum and refined petroleum products, natural gas, petrochemicals, forest products, agricultural crops, salt, sulfur and seafood. With so many reasons to call Louisiana home, emerging industries such as film, digital media and biomedical are expanding rapidly.
WHAT NEW ORLEANS NEEDS
Donna A. Addkison, the Director of Economic Development for the City of New Orleans, answered TURKOFAMERICA’s questions. She says New Orleans needs to import anything associated with building a house.
What are the State of Louisiana's business opportunities (especially New Orleans) and which areas could be interesting for Turkish investors?
The areas I see in New Orleans that could possibly be interesting for Turkish investors are the Downtown area (Canal Street, Warehouse District), and New Orleans East. Louisiana is targeting several key industries for economic development. They include traditional Louisiana industries as well as emerging industries with strong foundations in technology and research like advanced materials, agriculture, food, forestry, wood products, construction, durable foods/manufacturing, energy/oil & gas, entertainment, information technology, life science, and logistics/transportation.
What makes Louisiana different from other states in terms of having a business?
Louisiana is the nation’s energy hub; the largest importer of rubber, coffee, and steel; the home to NASA’s largest manufacturing facility; Louisiana is abundant in natural resources; has state-of-the-art fiber optic systems; Louisiana is a pro-business state; and is moving forward.
Before entering the U.S. market, what should Turkish business people do, and what kind of support would you provide them?
There are a number of organizations in New Orleans to help out with foreign businesses. There’s the International Business Committee, the World Trade Center 1st Stop Office, GNO inc., LED and City Hall, to name a few.
Could you give us some examples of foreign investment companies which have invested in Louisiana and how their businesses are doing?
The Shaw Group is one, in housing, with KB Homes. JELD-WEN, the world's largest manufacturer of reliable windows and doors, will build a door facings plant in Winn Parish. JELD-WEN expects to hire 75 people to run the plant and use wood chips from Louisiana. Construction of the new plant is slated to begin in early 2007. Formosa Plastics Corporation announced a $100 million expansion of the company’s Baton Rouge plant. According to company officials, Gulf Opportunity Zone incentives made expansion in Louisiana the most attractive choice for their business. Formosa expects the expansion to create 300 construction jobs in the area and be completed in 18 to 24 months. Criterion Catalysts & Technologies L.P. has chosen Port Allen, Louisiana as the location for its new, world-scale hydro processing catalyst manufacturing facility. Criterion is also purchasing a Port Allen alumina facility from Southern Ionics Inc. Over the next three years, Criterion is planning to invest more than $150 million and create approximately 60 new permanent jobs.
Turkish companies are especially good at the textile, leather, construction, auto industry, and tourism industries. Do you have any suggestion for Turkish exporters who want to sell their products to Louisiana? What kind of goods and material does Louisiana need to import?
Right now there’s a premium on imported cement, tile, rebar steel, copper pipe, copper wire, architectural roofing, cabinets, etc. Basically anything associated with building a house.
(January 2007, 23rd Issue)