ENTERGY’S ONGOING ROLE IN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
The energy company not only provides electrical power, but it also elevates the entire state by providing valuable resources to its new and existing partners.
As one of two Fortune 500 companies in Louisiana, Entergy plays a major role in the state’s economic development. Not only does it employ more than 4,000 workers, but it provides electricity and natural gas to more than 1.5 million customers and is consistently ranked as one of the lowest-costing electricity companies in the nation — an incentive for businesses to set up shop in the Bayou State.
Ed Jimenez, director of economic development for the company, oversees a staff of 22 individuals who work with area businesses, schools and industrial and political leaders.
His team comprises workers of different backgrounds: engineers, business developers, analysts and more, who all work together to facilitate growth.
“As a director of the group, my main job is to provide my team with the necessary tools, knowledge, skills, training that help them be able to deliver the best performance to support our partners, including the Port of South Louisiana,” he said.
“Everyone knows we’re a power company,” he said, “But the reality is that we do a lot of other things, and we see ourselves as a private sector partner, able to help any organization at the state level, regional level, Port level, and a local level.”
“We help organizations in the areas where they lack resources — often people resources [workers] and financial resources. We like to help our partners ‘fill the gap.’”
One way that it helps attract new businesses to the state is through its streamlined online resource, LouisianaSiteSelection.com. The website is easily navigable and provides an abundance of information, including regional demographics, site availability, and other property information.
“It’s a valuable tool,” Jimenez said.
Jimenez points out that his division has several specific strategies, the first of which is helping partners with product development.
“We help our partners identify industrial sites [via the aforementioned website], and get them certified,” he said.
Entergy also strives to “continuously streamline our work processes so that we can be a world-class project management team,” he said. “We want to make sure that we are not creating bottlenecks in the process.”
The company also wants to continue to develop and maintain long-term relationships with partners.
“We’re here for them in the long run,” said Jimenez.
Additionally, Entergy focuses on how to identify retention and expansion opportunities with existing industrial customers, as well as providing economic development partners with research and technology products that enhance their productivity.
He notes that the petrochemical and chemical industries have experienced tremendous growth, and “that Entergy has continued to work with the Port of South Louisiana as there is ongoing need for logistics and infrastructure. The Port plays an ‘incredible role’ in us being able to attract new capital investments and create new, high-paying jobs,” said Jimenez.
“Without these ports the companies just wouldn’t come here. They have to move their products all over the world, and it starts with having efficient inbound and outbound logistics especially via ocean-going vessels.”
Entergy also plays an important role in the education and nonprofit sectors by providing financial contributions through its foundation. Jimenez said it actively helps and improves the workforce in local communities. The company’s charitable foundation also serves as a way to provide support to K-12 schools, nonprofits, higher-education centers and more so that they can work on providing a qualified work force in order for the state to continue to attract business.
He said that the company paid $350 million in state and local taxes in 2014. Economists have done the math and found that this amount equates to sending over 34,000 students to Louisiana public schools. Plus, for every five jobs that the company creates, another 16 jobs are created in the economy.
With two new power plants under construction in Louisiana, Jimenez said they have continued to make great progress as a leading employer and low-cost electricity provider.
“We want to continue to improve the work force,” he said. “We also want to go out and continue to attract foreign direct investment by bringing companies outside the United States to Louisiana.
“Finally, we want to continue supporting policies and initiatives that improve our state’s competitive advantage; dredging the Mississippi river, improving business tax climate uncertainty, investing in the transportation infrastructure—all these are important.”
Overall, said Jimenez, Entergy is a proud Louisiana company that will continue to work to support and help create more new job and capital investment opportunities for its customers, communities and partners.
“We’re a nimble organization, so wherever we can help we will try our best.”
by Sarah Ravits