Today, Gov. Bobby Jindal and IBM Senior Vice President Colleen Arnold joined CenturyLink CEO and President Glen Post, Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret and other officials to announce that IBM will establish a 400-job Application Development and Innovation Center in Monroe, from which the company will provide software technology services to clients across the United States. IBM also will partner with CenturyLink on research, development and product innovation initiatives.
The IBM center in Monroe represents a multifaceted, transformational partnership that will include expanded higher-education programs related to computer science, as well as a major new technology park and mixed-use, real estate development that will catalyze new economic growth opportunities in Monroe. The IBM center will employ a broad range of college graduates and experienced professionals with backgrounds in computer science and other quantitative-intense fields, such as engineering, mathematics and science. In addition to the 400 direct jobs that will be created at the center, LED estimates the project will result in approximately 406 new indirect jobs, for a total of more than 800 new permanent jobs in Northeast Louisiana.
The rapid and widespread adoption of mobile and social technologies over recent years has changed the way customers and companies interact with one another – driving fundamental transformations to business processes and applications. The center will provide IBM’s clients with services that address the increasing demand for flexible software services to keep up with the big data, cloud computing and mobile requirements that they are facing.
Gov. Jindal said, “Two of the most successful economic development projects we’ve embarked upon in recent years are the multiple corporate headquarters expansion projects by CenturyLink in Monroe and the innovative public-private partnerships that created IBM’s technology center in downtown Baton Rouge. This project replicates those successes by combining two of the leading technology companies in the world in a partnership that will pay great dividends for the community and the economic future of Monroe, the Northeast Region and our entire state. This innovative partnership represents a big win that will bring about more business opportunities for generations to come. In addition to CenturyLink’s expansion, this project represents one of the most significant economic development announcements in Northeast Louisiana in decades.”
Following CenturyLink’s acquisitions of Embarq (2008), Qwest (2010) and Savvis (2011), CenturyLink and LED have been cultivating a shared vision to attract some of CenturyLink’s top technology partners to Monroe in order to better support CenturyLink’s growth, as well as to magnify the economic impact of its Fortune 500 headquarters in Northeast Louisiana. The IBM center will provide hundreds of new jobs for college graduates in north Louisiana in addition to new professional career options for spouses of professionals whom CenturyLink recruits to Monroe.
As part of the project, the State of Louisiana will provide $4.5 million in funding over 10 years for expanded higher-education programs designed primarily to increase the number of annual computer science graduates in Northeast Louisiana. The University of Louisiana at Monroe will expand its computer science and computer information systems programs while Louisiana Tech and Grambling State University will expand their technology programs in related areas, such as cyber engineering and data analytics.
Additionally, IBM will work closely with local professors to recommend curricular innovations focused on technology, math and software development, and equip students to meet the growing demand for business services, including advanced analytics, process innovation and application development.
The IBM center in Monroe will anchor a new 88-acre, mixed-use development employing smart-growth principles and will include a complementary mix of residential, commercial and recreational uses. The new development will be located along U.S. Highway 165 directly across from CenturyLink’s corporate headquarters. Following a competitive selection process, CenturyLink chose developer Robert Daigle, who built the successful River Ranch traditional neighborhood development near Lafayette, to guide development of the master-planned community. The mixed-use development will be located on land owned by CenturyLink that currently is undeveloped.
The State of Louisiana will provide $12 million for construction of new office space for use by IBM, which will become an anchor tenant of the privately developed mixed-use complex. A University of Louisiana at Monroe foundation will own the IBM space and lease that space to the company.
The announcement of IBM’s new center in Monroe accompanies the completion later this year of IBM’s new technology center in downtown Baton Rouge, which will employ 800 people. LSU is expanding its computer science program as part of the IBM-Baton Rouge project and already has experienced a doubling of its computer science enrollment since that project was announced in March 2013. This economic development win joins four other announcements secured by the Jindal Administration since 2008 that today have become four of the Top 10 manufacturers in Northeast Louisiana. These projects include ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston, DG Foods, Foster Farms and Gardner Denver.
“We’re proud to be part of this innovative public-private partnership with the State of Louisiana and CenturyLink to further develop highly valued skills and solutions expertise in security, analytics and mobility applications,” said Arnold, senior vice president, IBM Sales and Distribution. “Louisiana is the right place for high-tech job growth with an exceptional education system, business environment and workforce to serve the needs of our clients.”
IBM’s Application Development and Innovation Center in Monroe will follow the impending completion of CenturyLink’s new 300,000-square-foot Technology Center of Excellence, which expands the Monroe company’s headquarters space by 82 percent while adding an innovation hub for 800 new employees. That facility, which will open next month, fulfills a major part of two corporate headquarters and retention projects announced with the State of Louisiana in 2009 and 2011 that will create a total of 1,150 new direct jobs at CenturyLink and boost the company’s total Monroe-area employment to 2,600.
“CenturyLink’s partnership with IBM aligns our Information Technology investments with our strategic growth initiatives,” Post said. “It also supports our companywide transformation to an Internet Protocol, or IP-based, infrastructure, which enables a more agile IT development environment across CenturyLink. In addition, this initiative supports CenturyLink’s commitment to bring technology-based jobs to Louisiana and improve our workforce development and education climate. We appreciate our partnership with IBM and are glad we’ve been able to be a catalyst for their expansion plans in Monroe.”
LED, IBM and CenturyLink began formal discussions about the potential project in October 2014. To secure the project, LED offered IBM a customized, performance-based incentive package that includes $7.7 million in grants to reimburse relocation, recruitment, training and operating costs of the Monroe center. In addition, IBM will receive the comprehensive workforce solutions of LED FastStart® – the nation’s No. 1 state workforce training program – and the company is expected to utilize the state’s Quality Jobs Program.
“These 400 jobs will be a huge boost to our local economy,” Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo said. “We are ‘Monroe Proud’ to welcome IBM as our newest corporate citizen. This is another positive development due to the continued expansion of the CenturyLink headquarters here in Monroe. We thank Governor Jindal and LED officials for all of their efforts.”
IBM and CenturyLink represent the vanguard of what has become a rapidly expanding technology sector in Louisiana.
Combined with other digital media and software development projects announced by CGI, CSC, EA, Gameloft, GE Capital and others, these companies are producing more than 5,000 new direct jobs expected to be filled in Louisiana’s technology sector in the next few years alone.
“After several months of work with many partners, we are pleased that IBM has chosen Monroe for this exciting project,” said President Scott Martinez of the North Louisiana Economic Partnership. “This will cement our community as a desirable location for industry leaders such as IBM.”