The diverse set of industries in Central Louisiana strengthens and supports an expanding economy in the region. Many of the area's top companies have called Central Louisiana home for decades, in part due to the availability of a skilled workforce and strong quality of life.
Industry experts and renowned business publications are taking note of not just the strong network of Central Louisiana industries, but of the entire state. In 2013, Forbes named Louisiana as "America’s New Frontier for Business Opportunity," citing the state's incredible economic transformation over the past several decades into one of the most attractive places in the country to do business.
Advanced Manufacturing and Materials
Central Louisiana is home to some of the state's most well-known manufacturing companies, many of which have maintained a presence in the region for years. Consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble, Co. recently celebrated its 40th anniversary since the opening of its Pineville-based production center. Today, the facility is a key manufacturer and supplier of Tide detergent for consumers across the U.S.
The region's manufacturing industry also includes firms such as Plastipak Packaging, Inc., a global company that manufactures packaging to support globally recognized brands that range from Kraft Foods to Gatorade; The Hayes Companies, a Pineville-based metal fabricator that in 2013 announced a multimillion dollar expansion of its area manufacturing facility, while the focus of other top area manufacturers range from railroad equipment to compressors and electrical components; and Crest Industries, a Pineville-based leader in the electrical transmission and distribution section that in 2014 announced a multimillion dollar expansion of its headquarters.
The region's strong aerospace industry has close ties to the military presence for which the area is known.
England Airpark, located in Alexandria at the former site of England Air Force Base, is a multimodal center that is home to an international airport with close access to interstate, rail and water distribution channels. A number of aerospace and air transit companies maintain operations on the 2,200 acre property where more than 50,000 flights take off annually.
Central Louisiana is recognized for its strong forestry industry, which owes much of its success to the lush natural resources and tree-laden areas that are emblematic of the region.
Many top area companies like RoyOMartin Lumber Company have called Alexandria and the surrounding area home for decades, maintaining hundreds of thousands of southern pine to supply its lumber production mills. In addition, industry giants ranging from Weyerhaeuser Company and Boise Cascade to West Fraser maintain national and, in some cases, global operations that are powered in part by Central Louisiana timber mills and production facilities — employing thousands throughout the region in the process.
Central Louisiana's abundance of natural resources is a fundamental reason why the biofuels/biomass industry and alternative energy companies are on their way to becoming key contributors to the regional economy.
Companies like Cool Planet Energy Systems are investing more than $100 million in the construction of three Louisiana bio-refineries, the first of which is set to begin operations at the Port of Alexandria in 2015. Cool Planet chose Central Louisiana because of its ability to sustainably leverage the area's many renewable resources, which will serve as inputs toward producing renewable fuels and vehicle-ready gasoline — all of which will take place at plants roughly 100 times smaller than that of a typical oil refinery.
The region's central location and easy access to a multimodal transportation system support a thriving distribution industry in Central Louisiana.
Interstate 49, which runs through Rapides Parish, connects distributors with both Interstate 20 and Interstate 10, while a number of state highways provide additional access points for distribution-based operations. The 125-acre Port of Alexandria provides the region with another key outlet for transporting goods along the Red River, which spans multiple states, while the nearby Alexandria International Airport allows for companies to take advantage of quick and efficient access to air-based transit needs.