Gov. John Bel Edwards told the state Board of Commerce and Industry in 2016 that he expects applications for exempting manufacturers from local property taxes to be tied to job creation and retention.

In his Jan. 29 column, Dan Fagan would have you believe that reasonable changes to Louisiana’s Industrial Tax Exemption Program have led to a decline of construction jobs in Louisiana. So anxious is he to politicize the cyclical nature of construction that he completely ignores the continued success of Louisiana’s business attraction and retention.

Data from Louisiana Economic Development demonstrates that with the help of ITEP, Louisiana is securing good jobs and sizable capital. Through late 2019 in Gov. John Bel Edwards’ first term, the Louisiana Board of Commerce and Industry approved over 1,000 ITEP applications representing $104.5 billion in new capital investment. That’s twice the $50.1 billion in ITEP-approved investment during the prior governor’s final term.

And all of this was accomplished as local leaders were brought into the process of deciding if their own local tax dollars should be invested as temporary tax abatement, a concept so basic that literally every other state with a similar tax incentive does it — including Texas.

If Fagan cared to look past his own partisan view, he might’ve discovered the "Louisiana Economic Outlook: 2020 and 2021," published by the E.J. Ourso College of Business at LSU (September 2019). In the Outlook, economists list a new round of huge industrial projects that will begin construction in 2020-21.

New Orleans metro: “Projected to enjoy the fourth-fastest growth in the state, adding 9,400 jobs (+1.6%) in 2020 and 10,100 jobs (+1.7%) in 2021. Huge industrial projects on the 'edges' of this MSA — especially to the west in St. James Parish and to the east in Plaquemines Parish — will drive this growth. Very upbeat LNG export and methanol industries, along with a huge liquids terminal will be the key to this resurgence."

Baton Rouge metro: “Big projects by Methanex, Shell, Shintech, and ExxonMobil will provide a major kick to the industrial construction sector, while several significant public projects — including the Comite Diversion Canal and widening of I-10 will boost public construction."

Lake Charles metro: “The FID by Venture Global ($5.8 billion) and expected FIDs coming from Driftwood ($15.2 billion) and Lake Charles LNG ($11 billion) will revive the region's employment."

In addition, current U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis figures show Louisiana had the fourth-fastest growing GDP in the country. Louisiana has record-high personal income and an unemployment rate lower than when the governor took office. We’ve landed economic deals in 52 different parishes that will deliver over 40,000 jobs and $42 billion in capital investment.

Fagan is simply ignoring the coming uptick in industrial construction because it doesn’t fit the narrative he’d like to sell about Gov. Edwards and ITEP. He couldn’t be more shortsighted.

Don Pierson

secretary, Louisiana Economic Development

Baton Rouge

Dan Fagan: John Bel Edwards' war on industry has cost us 14,000 jobs. So far.