Home to a strong economy and thriving industrial sector, Southwest Louisiana’s transformation into a hub for energy production is well-documented by leading industry and trade publications. More than $40 billion in planned capital investments for the region only strengthen this position, as well as the top industries that collectively power the economy of Southwest Louisiana.
Southwest Louisiana is home to a number of companies that propel the region’s advanced manufacturing industry. Manufacturing operations range from traditional petrochemical companies for which the region is well-known to companies like Chicago Bridge & Iron Company (CB&I, formerly The Shaw Group), which manufactures components for nuclear power plants and announced a $100 million investment in a manufacturing facility located at the Port of Lake Charles.
There are a variety of reasons why Southwest Louisiana’s aerospace industry is an integral component of the region’s economy — a convenient geographic location near top defense contractors in Louisiana and Texas as well as the U.S. Army’s Fort Polk military installation, along with access to infrastructure and service areas like Lake Charles Regional Airport and Chennault International Airpark. In addition, regional training programs in fields such as Aviation Maintenance Technology offered by SOWELA Technical Community College in Lake Charles serve an integral role in educating the local workforce.
Southwest Louisiana’s top aerospace companies range from aircraft maintenance and repair to aircraft supply services — such as those provided by Era Helicopters that support the region’s thriving energy sector.
Southwest Louisiana’s agribusiness industry excels in part due to the abundance of natural resources and the innovation provided by leading companies that operate in this sector. Zagis USA, a leader in natural and synthetic textile fiber spinning, opened a state-of-the-art facility in Lacassine featuring some of the world's most advanced, open-ended cotton spinning technology.
Many agribusiness companies choose to do business in the region because of the strong infrastructure and transportation capabilities. Local facilities range from paper mills and pulp manufacturing to the advanced production of alternative fuels.
Southwest Louisiana’s regional healthcare industry is powered by three major hospitals that collectively employ thousands of area residents — Lake Charles Memorial Hospital, CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital and West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital.
Lake Charles Memorial Hospital is home to a family medicine residency program offered to medical school students in conjunction with LSU Health New Orleans, helping to establish a talent pipeline for the next generation of doctors in the region. In addition, nursing programs at nearby SOWELA Technical College and McNeese State University provide high-quality graduates to area healthcare facilities and serve to strengthen the industry’s stature and its supporting workforce.
The region is home to six area ports that include the Port of Lake Charles, the 13th-busiest port in the nation, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a key differentiator for Southwest Louisiana.
Ships and distribution companies frequently utilize the region’s sophisticated waterway transportation capabilities to move more than 55 million tons of cargo annually through the Port of Lake Charles, with goods and products that range from petroleum and natural gas to aluminum and heavy equipment. The Port of Lake Charles also accommodates approximately 60 area companies, many of which maintain port-based operations in order to take advantage of the area’s direct connection to the Gulf of Mexico through the Calcasieu River Ship Channel — a critical, 35-mile inland access route that supports maritime commerce for companies located throughout the region and carries 7.5 percent of the nation’s daily oil consumption.
Sustainable and Traditional Energy
Southwest Louisiana’s is an energy production hub and top supplier of goods and services for the southern U.S.
Industry giants such as CITGO Petroleum Corporation and ConocoPhillips maintain active refining operations that serve as cornerstones for traditional energy production in Southwest Louisiana. In addition, a number of announcements for capital investments in natural gas-related operations are catapulting an already strong energy sector for the region to what will become one of the nation’s most valuable assets.
Sasol North America, Cheniere Energy, Sempra Energy and Trunkline LNG are just a few of the companies responsible for more than $50 billion in planned investments for the region to support activities such as gas-to-liquids refining and liquefied natural gas conversions, positioning Southwest Louisiana as a global force for energy production for many years to come.