North Louisiana Collaboration Earns National Award
LED, NLEP cited for partnership with General Dynamics Information Technology, regional colleges
BATON ROUGE, La. — Today, the International Economic Development Council honored an innovative public-private partnership that prepares students for information technology careers at three Louisiana higher education institutions and provides a workforce pipeline for one of Northwest Louisiana’s leading IT companies.
The Excellence in Economic Development Silver Award was presented to the North Louisiana Economic Partnership, Louisiana Economic Development, General Dynamics Information Technology, Louisiana Tech University, Northwestern State University and Bossier Parish Community College at an awards ceremony during the IEDC annual conference in Atlanta. The colleges worked with GDIT to expand the IT talent pipeline coming out of the schools. Funded by a state higher education initiative from LED and supported by NLEP, the program allowed GDIT to ramp up its workforce to 1,000 employees in four years. Thirty percent of GDIT’s workforce are veterans.
“This award recognizes excellence in economic development through our best-in-class partnerships with leading companies and our higher education institutions,” LED Secretary Don Pierson said. “Louisiana committed to a 10-year, $14.5 million initiative with area colleges, and that commitment made it possible to recruit, train and deliver a critical workforce pipeline to General Dynamics Information Technology. In just over four years since the project was announced, our STEM emphasis has helped GDIT solidify its workforce in Northwest Louisiana. We are also pleased that many military veterans exiting service from Barksdale Air Force Base and Fort Polk have found great job opportunities with GDIT. Our partnership with NLEP and the education community is delivering a new generation of talent, and securing quality jobs in technology here in Louisiana. This successful partnership is also establishing the I-20 Cyber Corridor as a leading location for growing technology companies.”
The IEDC award recognized the six partners in the category of Partnerships with Educational Institutions for populations between 200,000 and 500,000. The Partnership Award honors excellence in economic development through meaningful linkages with postsecondary education. NLEP submitted the project for consideration.
“This year our judges reviewed some extraordinary projects that advanced both communities and businesses,” IEDC Board Chairman Craig Richard said. “What we learn from each other helps us to grow and advance as a profession. We look forward to even greater participation from economic developers across the globe in the 2019 awards program."
IEDC is the largest membership organization for economic developers in the world. Earlier this year, LED became the only statewide agency in the U.S. to earn the Accredited Economic Development Organization designation, following a more than yearlong documentation and site review process by the council.
“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 President Scott Martinez said. “North Louisiana Economic Partnership works closely with our higher education partners to recruit companies and to support the region’s existing employers. The collaboration between General Dynamics Information Technology, the three higher education partners and economic development organizations is an excellent example of the impact from partnership.”
The collaboration with GDIT demonstrates how partnerships can transform a region’s economy. A driving force behind the rapid growth of North Louisiana’s I-20 Cyber Corridor, from Shreveport/Bossier City through Ruston to Monroe, is the expansion of the area’s skilled IT workforce. That effort is fostered in part by higher education institutions teaming up with the state to expand the enrollment and graduation of computer-related majors.
“Louisiana Tech and our educational and corporate partners have made a commitment to helping create economic prosperity throughout our region,” Louisiana Tech University President Les Guice said. “This partnership has created a sustainable ecosystem for job creation, workforce training and economic development through 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 enrollment in IT-related programs to create a talent pipeline. Meanwhile, Grambling State University has recently received approval for a new degree program in cybersecurity that is expected to benefit companies across the I-20 Cyber Corridor.
“We are delighted to be recognized in this way by the IEDC,” said Chancellor Rick Bateman of 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 world-class partners in Louisiana Economic Development, General Dynamics 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 a workforce pipeline for its graduates. Input from GDIT ensured each university curriculum 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,” Northwestern State President Chris Maggio said. “The joint focus among 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.”
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