A company’s relocation doesn’t usually have such a great local tie, but that of a Silicon Valley firm moving to Lafayette does.
Having acquired a Lafayette-based company in 2019, SchoolMint Inc. will move its headquarters and other U.S. operations here from California.
The deal also includes offices in New York and Miami to be consolidated, CEO Bryan MacDonald and Gov. John Bel Edwards announced in Lafayette.
This is obviously a great success story for Lafayette, as the origins of the Acadiana part of the firm go back to a sophomore at Carencro High School in 2004, Casey Bienvenu, whose company was eventually purchased, ending up as Smart Choice Technologies when bought by SchoolMint in 2019.
The moves will involve a $515,000 investment in new offices and will create 178 new direct jobs in Lafayette, with an average annual salary of more than $74,000 plus benefits, according to the governor’s office. The firm develops enrollment, application and behavioral management software for schools.
The governor rightly applauded the move. “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,” he declared.
There’s also the taxpayer helping out, with $1 million for the company for relocation assistance, and a healthy tax credit for development of software products, among other benefits.
Those are valuable, no doubt, especially for a smaller company, but MacDonald put an emphasis on other things that the state and community can do for growth in a technology-based economy.
One is keeping the pipeline of talent full of students from universities who can provide the educated workforce that a tech company requires. Perhaps underrated in these announcements is the state’s award-winning program, FastStart, to recruit qualified people to work in relocated businesses, whether in blue-collar jobs at a factory or in a software firm.
We applaud SchoolMint as a new, or sort of new, star in the local technology scene.
Louisiana cannot guarantee success in any national, much less international, market for digital products or services. The loss of a significant number of New Orleans jobs at GE Capital was announced in the company’s round of cuts at the time of the coronavirus outbreak globally.
But we see SchoolMint as a contributor of new talents as well as old to Louisiana’s tech scene and talent is where our state needs to be more competitive in the 21st century. We hope that this success story will inspire lawmakers at the State Capitol to invest more in the community colleges and universities that make Louisiana more talent-competitive.