Bob Mann asked in his latest column, “Was anyone surprised when Amazon snubbed Louisiana for its H2Q?”
In my opinion, the primary reason Louisiana did not make the Amazon HQ2 shortlist is market size. The average of the 20 finalists is 5.2 million people; the largest market in Louisiana, New Orleans, is only 1.3 million.
Of course, more than 260 other cities did not make the cut, including some, like Houston, that are quite large. So, the decision was not just about population, and Robert Mann is correct in asking what other factors might have held back Louisiana. He is right in pointing out the generational social and economic challenges that must be addressed in order for our state economy to reach its full potential.
But it is puzzling that Mann omits that, just a few months ago, New Orleans successfully landed the biggest economic development job win in Louisiana history, DXC Technology — a $25 billion global IT firm that is bringing 2,000 jobs to our state. In fact, the DXC win was awarded the Silver Medal for No. 2 best economic development win in America for 2017.
Following a rigorous 18-month process, DXC chose Louisiana over 30 other locations in America. Why did we win? Clearly, New Orleans qualified for consideration due to our relatively low cost of business and our famously high standard of culture. But we actually won the deal for two other reasons: the demonstrated interest and ability from all of our 2- and 4-year colleges and universities; and, the unprecedented cooperation that DXC saw in Louisiana, from Baton Rouge to local leadership to the “man on the street.” According to DXC, this is what made the difference.
Mann raises a number of important issues, from health outcomes to infrastructure. We would add others, like the legal climate in Louisiana, that must be addressed. But for Mann to excoriate Louisiana over its problems, without congratulating the state for its successes, is incomplete and undermines the credibility of his argument.
DXC Technology — and the many other successes that led Louisiana to being ranked No. 5 best for business conditions in the USA in 2017 — demonstrates that working together, we can celebrate our strengths, address our problems, and achieve greatness.
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