Gov. Landry Signs Bill Transforming the State’s Approach to Economic Development and ‘Positioning Louisiana to Win’

by | Jun 11, 2024 | Economic Development, Legislative Advocacy

Home » Gov. Landry Signs Bill Transforming the State’s Approach to Economic Development and ‘Positioning Louisiana to Win’

BATON ROUGE, La. – Surrounded by legislators, economic development leaders and business stakeholders from around the state, Governor Jeff Landry signed legislation that fulfills his commitment to overhaul the state’s approach to economic development and revitalize business investment and job creation throughout the state.

SB 494, known as the “Positioning Louisiana to Win” bill, modernizes the organizational structure of Louisiana Economic Development so it can better attract new business and more effectively support the businesses already invested in our state.

The bill signing coincided with LED Secretary Susan B. Bourgeois’ announcement of her senior leadership team, which adds extensive private sector, economic development and change management experience at a pivotal moment in the agency’s history.

“Today we are taking the first big step toward restoring Louisiana’s position as the economic powerhouse of the South,” Governor Landry said. “We have always had the most skilled and dedicated workers, the richest natural resources and the best location for national and international commerce in the country. Now, with the signing of this bill and the leadership of Secretary Bourgeois, we can finally take full advantage of all the things that make Louisiana so special and give our workers and their families the future they deserve.”

The legislation establishes a private sector-led board – the Louisiana Economic Development Partnership (LEDP) – charged with developing an economic development strategic plan and advising on policies, programs and initiatives that promote economic growth in the state. It also provides the agency with critical flexibility to operate at the speed of business by exempting it from state procurement and technology services bottlenecks.

“Louisiana has a historic opportunity for investment, jobs, growth, innovation and global impact,” Secretary Bourgeois said. “But we can’t seize that opportunity unless we dramatically change our approach. The passage of SB 494 clears a path for that transformation to occur. I want to thank the bill’s author, Sen. Beth Mizell, and House Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. Daryl Deshotel; the House and Senate leadership; and the entire State Legislature for their unwavering support. With the governor, legislators, stakeholders and business leaders pulling in the same direction, and a talented and energized LED leadership team in place, realizing our state’s extraordinary economic potential is now within reach.”

By eliminating the statutory requirement that the governor appoint an Assistant Secretary and Undersecretary, SB 494 gives the LED secretary flexibility to create a leadership structure that best serves the agency’s current needs. Bourgeois was joined at the bill signing by her newly appointed executive team:

  • Anne Villa, Deputy Secretary
  • Rachel Shields, Chief Engagement Officer
  • Paige Carter, Chief Business Development Officer
  • Joshua Fleig, Chief Innovation Officer
  • Ileana Ledet, Chief Economic Competitiveness Officer
  • Mark Lorando, Chief Communications Officer
  • Chelsea Harris Dufrene, Executive Director, LED FastStart
  • Chris Stelly, Executive Director, Louisiana Entertainment and Director, Legislative Affairs
  • Robin Porter, Executive Counsel
  • Read full executive team bios at com.

“The ‘Positioning Louisiana to Win’ bill is a perfect illustration of the great things that can be accomplished when we all work together to create a better Louisiana,” said the bill’s author, Sen. Mizell. “It has already had a positive effect, giving Sec. Bourgeois the flexibility to assemble a talented leadership team that has a wealth of private sector experience. LED now has the tools it needs to move at the speed of business and help our local, regional and business partners put Louisiana back on top.”

The new legislation brings LED’s organizational framework in line with the best practices of other state economic development agencies such as Virginia, North and South Carolina and Georgia as highlighted in a recent Louisiana Legislative Auditor report. It also follows the recommendations of a study commissioned by the Committee of 100, a private nonprofit organization whose members include CEOs of leading private and public companies and Louisiana university presidents.

“Other states have had capabilities and structure we lacked at LED,” said Adam Knapp, CEO of the Committee of 100. “It’s important that this bill was based on independent, national research of best practices in other states. Today’s bill signing marks a new day in Louisiana’s aggressive pursuit of economic development.”