Given the challenges Louisiana faced after Bobby Jindal took office as the state's 55th governor at the start of 2008, it's a small wonder the state didn't fall in our Top States rankings.
Then again, the state didn't have much room to drop. It had finished 47th overall in 2007.
By the time Jindal took office, appealing to business in his inaugural address—"If you want to grow your company, Louisiana wants to grow with you"—the state was still reeling from Hurricane Katrina just over two years earlier. Another hurricane, Gustav, would follow later that year, with the global financial crisis immediately after that. In 2010 the Deepwater Horizon oil spill fouled the Louisiana coastline and crippled the state's petroleum, fishing and tourism industries.
Perhaps it is no surprise, then, that Louisiana has struggled to climb out of the 40s in our rankings. But it has not been for lack of trying.
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Jindal's economic development strategy has largely consisted of badly needed ethics reform, tax reform, generous—some say too generous—incentive programs and lots and lots of public relations.
Practically every plant opening or expansion, no matter how small, seems to warrant a press release from the state's hyper-aggressive Louisiana Economic Development office.
And the governor's office is happy to tell anyone who will listen that "since 2008, the Jindal administration has secured projects that are resulting in more than 91,000 new direct and indirect jobs and $62 billion in new capital investment across Louisiana."
The effort has dramatically improved Louisiana's standing in some opinion surveys of the state's business climate. But in Top States, which relies on hard performance data, traction has been much harder to come by.
No question there has been improvement under Jindal, most notably in Cost of Doing Business and Cost of Living. But the state continues to struggle in other areas, including quality of life, education and access to capital, keeping Louisiana stuck in the bottom tier.