North Louisiana Team Excels in Economic Development
North Louisiana was recently recognized by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) for a unique collaboration between General Dynamics Information Technology’s (GDIT) Integrated Technology Center in Bossier City, higher education and economic development partners to build an information technology (IT) talent pipeline. This innovative partnership received an international Excellence in Economic Development Award in the category of Partnerships with Educational Institutions for populations between 200,000 and 500,000. It recognizes meaningful linkages with postsecondary education to promote economic development. The award was bestowed by IEDC, the largest membership organization for economic developers in world, at its annual conference in Atlanta, Ga., in October. Five hundred twelve award applications from all over the world were reviewed by a panel of judges who are at the forefront of the economic development profession. Recipients of the 2018 awards came from across the globe, including Hong Kong, New Zealand and Bahrain.
Northwest Louisiana Economic Partnership (NLEP) submitted the project on behalf of its higher education and economic development partners in recognition of the impact produced by the partnership between GDIT, Louisiana Economic Development (LED), Louisiana Tech University, Northwestern State University (NSU), and Bossier Parish Community College (BPCC). The three schools partnered with GDIT to expand their computer-related curriculums to grow the IT talent pipeline. Funded by a 10-year, $14.5 million higher education initiative from LED, the collaboration allowed GDIT to ramp up its workforce to approximately 1,000 employees. In fact, 30 percent of GDIT’s workforce are veterans – many exiting active duty from Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier City, La.
LED’s commitment made it possible to recruit, train and deliver a critical talent pipeline to GDIT in just over four years. The collaboration delivered a new generation of IT talent and secured quality jobs in technology in North Louisiana. It also demonstrates how partnerships can transform a region’s economy. A driving force behind the rapid growth North Louisiana’s Technology Corridor is the expansion of the area’s ITskilled workforce, in part fostered by our high education institutions’ push to expand their enrollment and graduation of computerrelated majors dramatically.
“Louisiana Tech and our educational and corporate partners have made a commitment to helping create economic prosperity throughout our region,” said President Les Guice, Louisiana Tech University. “This partnership has created a sustainable ecosystem for job creation, workforce training and economic development throughout North Louisiana. Through innovative collaborations, our work with GDIT has resulted in national-scale impacts for our region.”
Louisiana Tech, BPCC and NSU developed new academic programs to support GDIT, hired additional faculty, upgraded technology and increased their enrollment in their computer information systems, computer science and other IT-related programs to create a talent pipeline.
“We are delighted to be recognized in this way by the IEDC. What makes this award special is that it recognizes the value of partnerships,” said Chancellor Rick Bateman, Bossier Parish Community College. “To be clear, no one of us could have achieved the outstanding economic development results on our own. Partnerships matter, and we are grateful for the opportunity to work with worldclass partners in Louisiana Economic Development, General Information Technology, Louisiana Tech University and Northwestern State University.”
The GDIT partnership has been mutually beneficial for the higher education partners involved because it has created employment opportunities for their graduates. Additionally, the state funding allowed the schools to hire faculty and staff, established student scholarships, supported student recruitment efforts and faculty development. Input from GDIT also ensured university curriculums met industry needs.
“Northwestern State University is honored to be part of this collaborative partnership that creates opportunities for internships, mentorships, volunteer activities and future employment for our students,” said President Chris Maggio, Northwestern State University. “The joint focus azmong the institutions involved on working together to develop a dynamic curriculum will reduce time of completion and minimize financial obligations for students. We are proud to play a role in fostering the next generation of IT innovators.”
North Louisiana’s 11 colleges and universities represent one of our region’s most significant assets, and this IEDC Award validates the importance of partnerships with our higher education institutions. NLEP works closely with our higher education partners to recruit companies and to support the region’s existing employers. This collaboration between the three high education partners and economic development organizations to support GDIT is an excellent example of the impact from partnerships. – President Scott Martinez, CEcD, North Louisiana Economic Partnership