SchoolMint, a San Francisco-based educational software company with a small office in Lafayette, will move its entire operations to Lafayette, bringing 178 jobs that pay an average salary of $74,200, officials announced Monday.
The company will relocate its corporate offices from New York and Miami to Lafayette and make $515,000 in capital investments in new facilities, the Louisiana Office of Economic Development announced. The timeline for the company’s move into a site is still to be determined, but the move is expected to create dozens of indirect jobs.
The company, which has an office at 130 S. Buchanan St., Suite 100, currently has 13 employees in Lafayette.
“With this headquarters relocation from Silicon Valley to South Louisiana, SchoolMint reinforces what we’ve known for a long time: Louisiana is a great place for doing business all across the digital landscape,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “From Lafayette to Baton Rouge and New Orleans and across north Louisiana’s I-20 Cyber Corridor, Louisiana is leading the way with cutting-edge tech firms creating quality jobs for our digital future. With this project delivering hundreds of new quality jobs, we are happy to welcome SchoolMint to our growing family of leading high-tech companies.”
SchoolMint acquired a Lafayette-based company in 2019, and company officials said they began considering consolidating and relocating there as they tapped into the area’s pro-technology and pro-business climate, college-to-career pipeline and availability of local talent, LED officials said.
CEO Bryan MacDonald, who recognized about 10 employees at the announcement who have already relocated to Lafayette, praised the resources available in Louisiana for the company to continue to grow. The company first became aware of the area in November after it acquired Smart Choice Technologies, a Lafayette-based company started in 2004 by Casey Bienvenu, then a sophomore at Carencro High School.
Smart Choice was then acquired by Lafayette-based Firefly Digital, which hired Bienvenu and allowed him to offer his program to schools across the country, MacDonald said. Firefly Digital CEO Mike Spears is a strategic adviser to MacDonald’s senior leadership team.
SchoolMint decided on Lafayette after the company visited sites in Texas, North Carolina, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Florida, he said.
“It’s no secret that a lot of California-based companies have decided to look outside California,” MacDonald said. “It’s become increasingly challenging to continue to operate there. And at the same time, communities have really stepped up their game in terms of innovative spirit and their availability to resources and talent.
“The more we looked at (Lafayette), the more we were confident we could grow faster and support our customers greater and offer an outstanding quality of life to our employees here more than anywhere else that we’d seen around the country.”
The company is looking for a permanent location and noted that the current location could hold the staff for about a year. There are some interesting locations downtown, he said, but the company has not ruled out a new construction site.
“We are looking at a variety of places around the city, including some of the more historic buildings downtown that need more renovation,” he said. “There are some interesting warehouses down there that we think have kind of a cool vibe that could be really redecorated and restored and turned into an interesting office.”
LED and the Lafayette Economic Development Authority began formal discussions about the project with SchoolMint in March. The state offered an incentive package that includes the services of LED FastStart workforce training program, a $900,000 Digital Interactive Media and Software Development tax credit on qualifying software development and payroll expenses and a $1 million performance-based grant for corporate relocation expenses.
Based upon meeting capital investment and payroll targets, SchoolMint will be eligible for up to $100,000 a year for 10 years and is expected to utilize Louisiana’s Quality Jobs Program.
SchoolMint Inc. serves over 9 million students and 18,000 schools across the country . It specializes in application and lottery management, registration/re-enrollment, tardy tracking and positive behavior reinforcement to make school operations more efficient.
The company will have a career fair in the coming weeks, MacDonald said.
“We see our mission as helping our customers create bright, sustainable futures,” he said. “We think we can do that better here than anywhere else in the United States. We see Lafayette and Louisiana as the place where SchoolMint will write the next several chapters of our own bright, sustainable future. We are thrilled to be here.”
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