CenturyLink will expand its headquarters and add 800 jobs over the next four years in an incentive agreement announced Tuesday by the state and the Monroe phone company.
The deal, which includes $18.2 million in grants and $1.2 million toward a partnership between the company and Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, will keep the company headquartered in Monroe through at least 2020, according to a news release from Gov. Bobby Jindal’s office.
The release says the deal — coupled with one made in 2009 — will boost CenturyLink’s employment from 1,970 today to 2,970 in 2016.
The 800 new jobs announced Tuesday will average more than $65,000 in annual pay plus benefits and should result in the creation of about 1,170 indirect jobs, according to estimates by the Louisiana Economic Development department.
The incentive package includes a performance-based grant of $14.9 million to pay for 50 percent of construction and another of $3.3 million to reimburse relocation costs. LED also will let CenturyLink use up to 150,000 square feet of discounted space in the state-owned Accent Building in Monroe during construction.
The $1.2 million to the Louisiana Tech partnership will be spent over four years.
CenturyLink also is expected to continue using the state’s Louisiana FastStart and Quality Jobs programs.
LED estimates that once the expansion is complete, CenturyLink will be one of the 10 biggest “economic-driver” companies in the state.
The state’s work with CenturyLink goes back to July 2009, when the company, then called CenturyTel, acquired Embarq Corp., of Kansas.
Jindal directed LED to begin working with the company to make sure its headquarters remained in Louisiana.
Later that year, the company made a commitment to increase its Louisiana employment by 350 jobs.
When CenturyLink announced its acquisition of Qwest Corp., of Denver, last year, the state worked again with CenturyLink and those discussions led to Tuesday’s announcement, the state said.
Upon completing its Qwest merger in April, CenturyLink operates a fiber network of 190,000 route-miles in 37 states.
The combined company had $18.5 billion in pro forma revenue in 2010. CenturyLink serves more than 5 million broadband customers and more than 15 million access lines across the U.S.
Also in April, CenturyLink agreed to buy information technology services provider Savvis Inc. for $2.5 billion.
The acquisitions come as CenturyLink works to expand its business at a time when households are steadily canceling landlines in favor of cellphones or cable phone service. Buying Qwest allowed it to cut corporate overhead by combining the third- and fourth-largest traditional phone companies into one. Buying Savvis will help the company to expand the hosting and cloud computing services it offers to business customers.
Cloud computing allows companies to store data and applications on remote servers rather than on their own computers and to access the remote servers over an Internet connection.
CenturyLink plans to meld its hosting business and Savvis’ managed hosting and cloud services into a single business unit in St. Louis.
Together, CenturyLink and Savvis will operate 48 data centers in North America, Europe and Asia. They will have 50,000 combined employees.
The transaction still needs approval from antitrust regulators and Savvis stockholders. It’s expected to close in the second half of this year.