Pioneering Innovation

Economic development powered by ports and reaching for the sky

Pioneering InnovationPioneering Innovation

Louisiana has economic prosperity on land, on water and in the air – all part of a strategy to capitalize on Louisiana’s geographic location, its well-trained workforce, and its spirit of innovation. Importantly, this strategy is leading business development in noted industries like aerospace, while also furthering the state’s standing as a global trade leader.

As proof of unique economic developments that are unlike any in existence, look no further than NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, where the rockets for the Artemis moon mission are being built along with the Orion Space Capsule. Then turn your gaze to the Mississippi River, where leading-edge technology will soon help guide port logistics. In Louisiana, the future is now.

Louisiana’s aerospace sector is blasting off

Legacy of innovation and economic development continues at Michoud Assembly Facility

Louisiana’s blue skies have been the backdrop for high-flying innovation and economic development since the early days of aviation.

On land, the aviation and aerospace industries of Louisiana are met with an award-winning workforce program, competitive business incentives and innovative higher-education initiatives.

The state’s economic ambitions in aerospace took flight in 1961, when President John F. Kennedy elegantly laid out a vision of Americans on the moon. That speech spawned the development of NASA’S Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.

“From the days of the Apollo missions to the development of the Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft, we have long looked to Michoud for a glimpse at our destiny in space. The Louisiana Space Campus will help us fulfill that destiny.”

Governor John Bel Edwards

Artemis is NASA’s new manned space program that will bring astronauts – including the first women and person of color – to the moon by 2024. At NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Lockheed Martin is fabricating the Orion crew module for the Artemis III mission, and Boeing is assembling the core stage of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.

By the end of the decade, Michoud’s contributions to the Saturn V rocket helped propel Apollo 11 to the lunar surface, where Neil Armstrong made one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind, and a defining moment for a fledgling industry with big aspirations. Louisiana's mission as “America’s Rocket Factory” was officially underway.

More than 60 years later, the journey continues. Artemis, Greek mythology’s sister to Apollo, is the name given to NASA’s new manned space program that will begin test flights in 2022. The next steps are to bring astronauts – including the first women and the first person of color – to the moon by 2024, and hopefully to the surface of Mars for future missions.

At Michoud, Lockheed Martin is fabricating the Orion crew module for the Artemis III mission, and Boeing is assembling the core stage of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. Supporting their efforts is a Louisiana workforce trained by Nunez Community College and Louisiana Economic Development’s LED FastStart, which has been recognized as the nation’s best workforce development program for 12 consecutive years.

The main building at Michoud encompasses 43 acres of climate-controlled manufacturing space, and hosts both government and commercial tenants. The site has an extensive history of hosting defense and civil agencies, along with contractors that support the development of technological products and services.

And now, it’s clear to see that the might of the state’s aerospace sector is set for an even brighter future, as evidenced by Gov. John Bel Edwards and NASA’s March announcement of a planned 50-acre Louisiana Space Campus in New Orleans East.

It’s the stepping-off point to develop a business park worthy of the world-class aerospace activities that take place at Michoud. The Space Campus will attract public- and private-sector tenants at the 829-acre site, with new office buildings, green spaces and contemporary amenities.

The Louisiana Space Campus is ready to build off the legacy set by aerospace innovations of the past, with a foundation built for new initiatives from cutting-edge tenants.

SmartPort: Louisiana's uncanny, unmatched global trade solution

Cutting-edge technology will power a one-of-a-kind river logistics system

A forward-thinking partnership between the U.S. Department of Commerce, the State of Louisiana and the nonprofit Water Institute of the Gulf is developing the Lower Mississippi River SmartPort & Resilience Center, or SmartPort, to bring waterborne commerce into the digital age.

“SmartPort’s strategic application of analytics technology will help us all more fully and safely harness commercial opportunities.”

Brandy D. Christian, Port of New Orleans President and CEO

Jeff Guilott with Cooper/T. Smith, Justin Ehrenwerth, president and CEO of The Water Institute of the Gulf and Andrew Courtois, field geologist with The Water Institute of the Gulf discuss how sensors measuring the Mississippi River depth are integrated into the tugboat’s systems. This groundbreaking technology is one of several digital strategies that will improve river logistics through Louisiana's SmartPort program. (Photo by Tim Mueller, Tim Mueller Photography)

Offering real-time data that can be shared by port administrators, shippers, tenants, and cargo and ground transportation providers, SmartPort has been compared to the Waze motorist app, giving information that boosts efficiency by allowing users to assess critical operational factors such as tracking currents, river congestion, visibility and weather conditions.

SmartPort integrates crowd-sourced data from vessels traversing the region’s waterways with official survey data and artificial intelligence to develop accurate, immediate and actionable assessments of vital port and river conditions, including shoals, river depths, vessel congestion, visibility and other conditions. SmartPort’s data-sharing solution enables the full spectrum of stakeholders — from captains to cargo companies and port operators — to pinpoint potential delays in operations and, in the process, significantly improve their logistical capabilities.

Eight Louisiana ports — Lake Providence, Madison, Vidalia, Baton Rouge, South Louisiana, New Orleans, St. Bernard and Plaquemines — will be the first in the world to deploy the SmartPort conditions assessment solution. Development capital from the U. S. Department of Commerce and the State of Louisiana will broaden the program’s reach by funding construction of a combined regional data-sharing exchange that will also function as an emergency operations center.
SmartPort exemplifies Louisiana’s long history of infrastructure reinvention. Businesses that locate in the state are beneficiaries of a centuries-long determination to develop the technologies, partnerships, policies and programs that reinforce Louisiana’s preeminence as a center of global trade.

2021 Project Expansions


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