Industry investment is crucial for Louisiana’s growth and stability

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

Tomorrow, the Louisiana Board of Commerce and Industry will hold a public hearing to receive comments on the proposed rules for the Industrial Tax Exemption Program (ITEP), which is an incentive that Louisiana uses to attract manufacturers looking to build or expand in the state.

“For 82 years, ITEP has attracted hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in tax revenue,” said Connie Fabre, executive director, GBRIA. “The investments that these businesses bring to local communities doesn’t end with the company itself. ITEP projects deliver opportunities to Louisiana-based small businesses, like construction companies and restaurants, while providing an important economic input to cities and parishes. Taxes collected from these investments are used for transportation, education, law enforcement and social services. I hope that the Board of Commerce and Industry recognizes the important role ITEP has in the future of Louisiana and of the Baton Rouge community.”

ITEP gives an economic boost to parishes and the families that live in them; workers in ITEP-heavy parishes, such as East Baton Rouge Parish, have incomes about 18 percent higher than the rest of the state. In fact, public school teachers in East Baton Rouge Parish earn nearly 8 percent higher than the state average. The industry helps to make this possible. Today, two of every three property tax dollars collected in the Capital Region come from industry. Specifically in East Baton Rouge Parish, one of every two property tax dollars comes from industry investment and in other parishes it’s even higher.

“Employment in this part of the state has grown 20 percent since 2000 with more of our neighbors, family and friends building careers and lives here,” said Fabre. “The common thread across this growth is industry investment. When industry invests here, families move here and people go to work.”

Since Louisiana implemented changes to the ITEP program in 2016, advance notices for planned projects has dropped 35 percent. The number of jobs planned has dropped by 61.5 percent. This is because the future is uncertain.

If ITEP becomes too difficult for businesses to obtain, project investments will drop more, which will result in more loss of direct full-time, high-paying jobs in the area. Additionally, East Baton Rouge Parish will lose sales and other taxes that come to the local economy, which will reduce funds needed for our schools, police force and social services. It is crucial to maintain ITEP and continue to bring investments into the local community.

“When we look at a slowdown in advance applications for the ITEP incentive, there are things we can’t control in the market. But developing a competitive ITEP that delivers investment, jobs and hundreds of millions in predictable tax revenue is something we can control and fix. Companies will avoid investing here if we cannot tell them what it could cost, just like few people will buy a house without knowing the price first, no matter how that house can meet their family’s needs,” said Fabre.

Continued investment is critical to the growth and stability of Louisiana’s economy. The Board of Commerce and Industry public hearing will take place at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, May 22, at 8401 United Plaza Blvd., in the 4th floor conference room. To learn more about ITEP, visit http://www.gbria.org/itep.

Contributed by GBRIA