Silicon Bayou – Much More than Economic Incentives

By: Amrita Joshi

Why Louisiana is the Hottest Destination for Technology Companies Today

As part of RevAmerica 2015, I had the opportunity to learn about how Louisiana has become a popular destination for technology companies through conference panels, interactions with government representatives and agencies, and a site visit to companies and educational institutions in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Lafayette.

I can’t tell you how impressed I was with how much Louisiana has done to grow its technology industry in in such a short period of time. Before I visited Louisiana, I had heard a lot about the aggressive economic incentives that the state has put into place to attract technology companies. However, I was not aware of the extensive work being done to increase and sustain the technology talent pool….and how fast they are doing it.

As part of the main conference, we had a panel on “Building Scale: How Louisiana is Transforming its Talent Base” where we had three senior deans/program directors from major Louisiana Universities as well as two executives from companies that had recently established delivery centers in Louisiana, IBM and technology services startup, Enquero.

The level of cooperation between the companies and educational institutions was the highest I have seen during my years of working in onshore services development. For example, IBM has been working hand in hand with Louisiana State University for the past two years (project managers, weekly meetings and everything!) on developing the workforce they need for their new 800 seat Baton Rouge center. Through their work they have had significant input on all aspects of workforce development, from recruiting students to the college to shaping the computer sciences curriculum. IBM’s GM of Services – Americas even came up with the concept for the university’s computer science recruitment campaign around “changing the world, building the future”.  In addition, in just one year, IBM together with the university’s faculty have helped develop a new Computer Science curriculum. For those of you who have experience working with universities, this is no small feat. How did the Dean sell this internally? By convincing faculty that they were not doing this for IBM, they were doing it for the students.

Enquero, a technology services start-up, received a significant amount of attention from state and local governments when it announced its first center would be in Louisiana. More importantly, they are playing a key role in the community to develop the talent pool in Lafayette. They have established a partnership with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette to recruit students from the University’s School of Computing and Informatics as well as serve as advisors on such matters as curricula, tools and internships. In addition they are serving as an industry advisory board member on the NSF’s Center for Visual and Decision Informatics, to help advance next-generation Big Data and Decision Support technologies.

Most incredible is the pace at which these companies and universities are expanding. Over the five year period, Louisiana State University, University of New Orleans and University of Louisiana at Lafayette have committed to at least tripling the number of Computer Science graduates. In actuality they are doing this much faster.  This dedication to creating knowledge talent quickly is what is going to make Louisiana a great destination for technology services – long after the incentives have run out.

Watch video from RevAmerica 2015 session “Building Scale: How Louisiana is Transforming its Talent Base”.

For more information about Louisiana, please visit
or contact Josh Fleig at [email protected]

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