Home to a set of diverse industries in Monroe and West Monroe, Northeast Louisiana has some of the state’s top economic drivers.
The region maintains deep roots in industries such as advanced manufacturing, and many of the area’s top companies are considered leaders in their respective fields when it comes to incorporating new and emerging technologies. In 2011, CenturyLink, today a Fortune 500 company, chose Monroe as the site for its corporate headquarters. This decision, along with the presence of other top area employers that represent a number of publicly-traded or industry-leading companies, helped catalyze Northeast Louisiana’s economy to ensure the area remains connected to resources across the globe and at the forefront of cutting-edge trends. With such a strong economic foundation, both industries in Monroe and in the surrounding Northeast region are thriving.
With its central location convenient to key transportation routes and top metropolitan markets, Northeast Louisiana serves as a distribution hub for Louisiana and areas across the southern United States. Several area ports like the Greater Ouachita Port, located on the west bank of the Ouachita River near West Monroe, provide companies with nearby access to inland shipping, while six rail companies that serve the region provide similar levels of access for transportation of goods by railroad.
In addition, more than 50 companies comprise Northeast Louisiana’s freight trucking industry and regularly operate distribution routes along Interstate 20 and U.S. 165 — two key east-west and north-south connectors for trucking that provide access to some of the nation’s top markets, all within a day’s travel time.
Northeast Louisiana is home to two major healthcare centers, including St. Francis Medical Center, the largest healthcare provider and overall employer in the region with 2,200 employees across its three Monroe campuses. Northeast Louisiana’s healthcare industry also employs a quality workforce, with Monroe ranking No. 4 out of 295 markets across the nation in a 2011 Kaiser Health News study measuring overall patient satisfaction with area hospitals.
More than 200 physicians and 71 dentists practice in the Monroe-West Monroe area alone, and a 2012 study conducted by the University of Louisiana at Monroe identified more than 12,000 employees in just Ouachita Parish employed by the healthcare and social assistance industry.
The region is home to a highly skilled workforce and thriving advanced manufacturing industry with top area companies ranging from Gardner Denver Thomas, an international compressor and pump manufacturer, to aluminum manufacturer Sapa Extrusions, which manufactures products that include aluminum sliding doors and football stadium seats.
In 2013, nearly 5,000 people were employed by manufacturers in Ouachita Parish alone, according to a 2013 study conducted by the University of Louisiana at Monroe’s College of Business Administration.
The region’s strong telecommunications industry is a direct byproduct of the presence of telecom giant CenturyLink, the nation’s third largest provider, which employs nearly 1,900 at its Monroe headquarters. The company recently broke ground on a 250,000-square-foot expansion of its area footprint, a Technology Center of Excellence that will house approximately 800 employees.
The center, scheduled to be complete and operational by early 2015, will colocate world-class expertise across various research labs, a network operations center and provide meeting spaces for employees and CenturyLink vendors alike to spur innovation and develop cutting-edge technology solutions.