Sustainable Industries describes products and services that help companies manage - and profit from - environmental issues and challenges. Unlike other business issues, sustainability is being shaped by multiple external drivers including resource scarcity, rising energy costs, increasing regulatory oversight, environmental risk and shifting customer preferences. Though these drivers create new challenges for businesses, they also create new opportunities for companies to develop innovative solutions that can overcome these issues while generating profits and creating jobs.
Greater New Orleans, Inc. has launched the Sustainable Industries Initiative (SII) as a proactive approach to catalyze business activity within sustainable industries by leveraging the regional assets and natural characteristics that make the region an ideal place to build sustainable technologies, products and services. The goals of SII are to create new jobs, increase revenue and improve the sustainability of the region by:
- Creating a cluster of sustainable businesses that leverage synergies in technology, manufacturing supply chain, distribution and R&D
- Engaging local universities and colleges in research, innovation and training in fields supporting energy and sustainability
- Creating a platform for commercialization of innovation and entrepreneurship around sustainable technologies and services
- Supporting economically and ecologically healthy communities with outstanding opportunities for local residents
- Enhancing the regional brand to attract businesses, innovation and investment
Through global research into current and future corporate demands regarding sustainability, as well as analysis of the unique strengths of the Greater New Orleans region, 13 sustainable subsectors in which the region has the greatest opportunities have been identified. Those subsectors are:
- Coastal Restoration and Protection
- Hazardous Waste Disposal
- Advanced Biofuels
- Disaster Mitigation and Management
- Waste Water Treatment
- "Next Wave" Oil and Gas
- Sustainable Agriculture
- Waste Heat Recovery
- Sustainable Aquaculture
- Biorefinery Development
- Wind-Structure Manufacturing
Recognizing the opportunities that Louisiana presents to expanding companies focused on sustainability, Irvine-based venture capital firm SAIL Capital Partners recently launched a new venture capital fund to invest in clean technologies within the state. The new Louisiana Sustainability Fund (LSF) will invest in later stage growth companies with proven technologies, either in Louisiana or positioned to locate in Louisiana, that are making significant contributions to sustainable economic growth.
Key Regional Assets
- Infrastructure - The major port, rail and interstate systems connect the region to expansive markets throughout the United States and overseas.
- Manufacturing Assets and Expertise - The region has facilities and a knowledgeable, cross-trained workforce that have successfully completed large-scale manufacturing projects including military ship hulls and space shuttle rockets. There is available capacity for the region to immediately take on new large- or small-scale manufacturing projects utilizing existing facilities and workforce. Availability of Labor - traditional energy industries have contributed to the growth of a workforce with diverse engineering, advanced manufacturing and technology deployment skill sets.
- Incentives - Federal, state and local incentives available to sustainable businesses in the Greater New Orleans Region comprise one of the most aggressive, and potentially lucrative, financial packages in the nation, and include:
- The Gulf Opportunity Zone (GO Zone) federal tax incentives offer a competitive advantage for the relocation or expansion in the region;
- The Enterprise Zone and the Quality Jobs programs offer lucrative job-based incentives;
- The Industrial Tax Exemption Program abates property (ad valorem) taxes for a 10-year term;
- Louisiana FastStart provides customized recruitment, screening, and training to new and expanding companies at no cost;
- The Modernization Tax Credit provides a 5% refundable state tax credit for manufacturers modernizing or upgrading existing facilities in Louisiana;
- The Technology Commercialization Credit and Jobs Program provides a 40% refundable tax credit for companies that invest in the commercialization of Louisiana technology and a 6% payroll rebate for the creation new, direct jobs; and
- The Research & Development Tax Credit provides up to a 40% refundable tax credit for expenditures within the state relating to R&D activity.
- Access to Capital - The recently launched Louisiana Sustainability fund, the New Orleans Startup Fund, and other venture capital entities are prepared to invest in high-growth sustainable businesses.
In addition to these tangible benefits, the Greater New Orleans region has also become a regional brand associated with both energy production and resilience. This brand will be leveraged and expanded to include sustainability and to attract additional research, resources, support, and business activity within sustainable industry sectors.
Sustainable Activity Examples
- Blade Dynamics, a manufacturer of innovative wind turbine blades, entered into a partnership with Dow and American Superconductor and relocated its headquarters from the United Kingdom to the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.
- In Norco, La., Diamond Green Diesel is developing a renewable diesel facility that will produce 137 million gallons of fuel per year, primarily from animal fats, used cooking oil and other waste grease streams.
- Free Flow Power harnesses the power of the Mississippi River to convert hydrokinetic power to electricity. Because Louisiana maintains rights over its riverbeds, companies can take advantage of an easier negotiation process for turbine site establishment.
- Chemical plants already produce catalysts and enzymes needed to convert agricultural products into biofuel.
- Dynamic Fuels, a joint venture between Tyson Foods and Syntroleum Corp., began operations in October 2010 at its new plant in Geismar, La. The refinery uses a process developed by Syntroleum called Bio-Synfining™, which converts non-food-grade animal fats and greases provided by Tyson into ultra-clean fuels with the lowest emission levels of any transportation fuels on the market. This is the first fuel production facility of this kind in the U.S.