Gov. Bobby Jindal can rattle off facts and figures, and he’s certainly had to when he’s talked lately about the emerging technology sector in Louisiana.
The list includes major players in the industry and some that are hardly household names, but it’s a long one even for Jindal to cram into his sentences: “… from EA, Gameloft and GE Capital to CGI, CSC and IBM. We’re also adding key emerging players, such as Perficient, Enquero, 4th Source, Performance Software and, now, Stixis.”
That last firm is a software company relocating to Baton Rouge from Dallas, an announcement that came on Thursday. If it is less familiar than the computer game companies like EA, or names like IBM and GE, that’s because it is based in Bangalore, India. Several states, including Virginia, Florida, Texas and Wyoming, competed for the Stixis site.
That it is going to the Louisiana Technology Park in Baton Rouge’s midcity area will mean by 2019 another 230 direct jobs, with an average salary of almost $60,000 a year.
As the governor rightly said on Thursday, “We’re proud that this global company selected Louisiana over many other states as the very best place to grow its technology business.”
The companies contribute more than just payrolls by bringing expertise in the industry to our state. “Not only will the company provide quality jobs and capital investment, they have a vision for developing the region’s workforce through training courses led by company experts,” Mayor-President Kip Holden said at the Stixis announcement.
The jobs that have already come to Louisiana in the software industry have concentrated, probably not at all by accident, in cities where there are major universities — Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lafayette. But those have not been the only cases, as the Shreveport region also hosts university resources (particularly Louisiana Tech in Ruston) and major consumers of software services (such as Barksdale Air Force Base), so CSC has located in that area with a projected 800 jobs to come to Bossier City.
There is also, as in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, robust growth in film and digital media in Shreveport.
All that is to say that there are multiple opportunities to grow this kind of emerging sector for Louisiana’s economy and we have by no means reached the limit of growth in employment from these companies, as well as such home-grown developments as Renaissance RX, the biomedical testing company that plans 425 new direct jobs in New Orleans’ Central Business District.
Despite all these announcements and growing payrolls in knowledge-based industries, Louisiana’s economy remains firmly rooted in traditional sectors: oil and gas, petrochemical manufacturing, timber and paper. All are important, but it is the rapidly growing tech sector — and in this we include emerging biomedical service companies — that represents a significant diversification of our economy.
It is an important element in any long-range plan that will allow the state to grow but also give our economy more resilience should traditional industries suffer a downturn.
We welcome Stixis, in fact the whole list of them, and look forward to prosperous years ahead for the companies and for Louisiana.