Four Capital Region business stories to watch
1. Natural gas prices
This is the big one. When gas is cheap, as it is now, chemical plants tend to expand and invest in new projects. If the cost of natural gas remains low for at least the next few years, as many experts predict, virtually all Capital Region businesses, not just plants and industrial builders, will benefit.
2. Tuscaloosa Marine Shale
At least 32 wells have been drilled in the shale formation, which stretches across central Louisiana just north of Baton Rouge. While it's too early to say whether the shale play, thought to be rich in oil, will be commercially viable, early results have been encouraging. A horizontal well drilled recently by Devon Energy is said to be producing 384 barrels of oil per day.
As the cost of production rises in China, manufacturers are starting to look to the United States again for making goods bound for North American customers. Cheap energy, access to raw materials, and a manufacturing-friendly tax and incentive structure could put Louisiana and the Capital Region in line to take advantage of this anticipated trend.
4. Digital media
This sector, a particular focus of BRAC, has been growing, thanks in large part to generous state incentives. Academy Award–winning visual effects studio Pixomondo established its 12th location in Baton Rouge this year.
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The old two-year college try