Central Louisiana’s economy is thriving. Continuously bringing in new businesses of all kinds, the area’s appealing location plays a large part in its economic growth.
Centrally located within Louisiana, the region sits within reach of a number of major markets through Interstate 49 and Highways 165, 167, 171 and 28, an international airport, rail lines and an expanding regional port. Traffic has increased at the Alexandria International Airport, with a modern, $39 million passenger terminal having been opened in December of 2006. Alexandria operates a railroad-switching yard, used by the Kansas City Southern and Union Pacific Railroads.
Railroad spurs are ideally located at the Port of Alexandria and England AirPark, as well as a host of additional industrial sites. The Alexandria Regional Port is continually expanding, undergoing another 45,000 square foot addition to its facility.
These top transportation amenities have aided in attracting a diverse array of business to Central Louisiana, with such companies as StarTrek USA, Union Tank Car Company, Calvary Industries, Plastipak and Integrated Packaging. StarTrek USA recently opened its technical support center and Union Tank Care Company opened its $100 million manufacturing facility, both in Alexandria, while Calvary Industries, Plastipak and Integrated Packaging have all located to the area to support Proctor and Gamble’s new liquid detergent products. Further companies having relocated to the area in recent years are Allegro Biodiesel and the Roy O. Martin World Headquarters, with expansions at Willamette Valley Company, Dis-Tran Manufacturing, Proctor and Gamble and AFCO Industries.
Agriculture has maintained a strong presence in the southern economy, with cotton, sugar cane, sweet potatoes, corn and soybeans at the top of the list. Additionally, Forest Hill has recognized itself as the “Nursery Capital of the World” due to its abundance of nurseries, which provide both wholesale and retail plants.
Major manufacturers in Central Louisiana are Proctor and Gamble, International Paper, Dresser Industries, Boise Cascade and Union Tank Car Company, along the successful hometown businesses of MARTCO and CLECO.
The area’s top employers include Fort Polk/JRTC, Rapides Parish School Board, Northwestern State University, Pinecrest State School and Rapides Regional Medical Center, among many others.
Central Louisiana has enjoyed an increasing average employment rate, which is expected to raise even more with the arrival of new businesses and the expansions happening at several companies.
The average unemployment rate has dropped significantly since 2005, from about 10,000 to less than 6,000, and with these new developments, that number is expected to drop even more.