La. moves up in innovation rankings

The Advocate

Louisiana improved its innovation ranking in the Consumer Technology Association’s annual Innovation Scorecard, but the state remained in the bottom half of the rankings.

The scorecard ranks states in 10 categories, including granting STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — degrees; entrepreneurial activity; attracting investment; fast Internet; tax friendliness; and welcoming new business models.

“Louisiana should be complimented for pushing innovation policy through the Louisiana Innovation Council,” said Adam Knapp, president and chief executive officer of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber. “It’s important that the Edwards administration and LED (Louisiana Economic Development) retain and elevate innovation as a priority. A recent PAR report called for the same.”

Louisiana got a B in entrepreneurial activity but a D+ in STEM degrees and a D- in tech workforce. Louisiana got an A+ for being a right-to-work state but an F on attracting investment.

The CTA says studies show residents of right-to-work states, where unions can’t require workers to pay dues as a condition of employment, have higher personal income and more job growth. The AFL-CIO maintains that a host of economic issues are found in right-to-work states, including average worker pay about $6,000 less a year and a much higher percentage of jobs in low-wage occupations.

Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of CTA, said the measures enable innovators to thrive and draw entrepreneurs. “But unless more state policymakers adopt a light regulatory framework, they risk sending valuable talent and economic growth to a neighboring state — or, far worse, overseas,” he said.

Knapp said the bright spots in the report are the rankings for entrepreneurial activity, right-to-work policies and a competitive business tax climate.

Louisiana’s negatives are well-known: attracting investment, size of the tech workforce and number of STEM degrees granted, Knapp said. LSU has been a leader in trying to change this, with efforts like the LIFT2 program’s grants for new technologies.

Louisiana’s tax credit for research and development had helped small businesses develop new products, but the state Legislature reduced the size of the credit and limited companies’ ability to convert the credit to cash.

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