WASHINGTON - U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez has announced that he and Federal Coordinator for Gulf Coast Rebuilding Donald Powell will lead a delegation of business leaders to Louisiana and Mississippi on a "Gulf Coast Business Investment Mission" May 4-5 2006 to highlight investment opportunities in the Gulf Coast, including federal GO-Zone tax incentives, as part of an effort to promote economic growth and job creation in the region following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

"The business community will lead the way in rebuilding the Gulf Coast economy," Gutierrez said. "The Bush administration is committed to encouraging new investment and employment in the region so that businesses can reopen and more people can return to work and communities can be rebuilt better and stronger than before."

The Gulf Coast Business Investment Mission will target industry sectors including construction, agricultural processing, chemicals, energy, fisheries, petrochemical, shipbuilding, real estate and financing, capital financing, transportation, manufacturing, retail, and travel and tourism.

"I am pleased to be part of this historic mission," said Powell. "The administration has led trade missions to other countries that have helped American businesses succeed overseas, so it only makes sense to use that same formula to help introduce or reintroduce American businesses to the Gulf Coast region. Rebuilding in the wake of Katrina and Rita can't be done by the Federal government alone - partnerships with the private sector are of the utmost importance and will help drive the economic engine for the long-term recovery of this region."

The mission will include stops in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, La., and Biloxi, Miss. In each city, participants will meet with key federal, state, and local officials and other local decision makers to discuss the business climate and investment opportunities in the Gulf Coast.

Participants will also be briefed on incentives made available as a result of President Bush's Gulf Opportunity Zone Act of 2005. In December, the President signed this legislation that creates a Gulf Opportunity Zone with tax relief for businesses and entrepreneurs in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

Businesses interested in participating in this investment mission should call the U.S. Department of Commerce Office of Business Liaison at 202-482-1360.

Publication date: 04/03/2006