ATLANTA, Ga. — North Louisiana Economic Partnership (NLEP) has announced that the partnership with General Dynamics Information Technology’s (GDIT) Integrated Technology Center in Bossier City and other integral partners has won an international award.
Louisiana Economic Development (LED), Louisiana Tech University, Northwestern State University (NSU), and Bossier Parish Community College (BPCC) won an Excellence in Economic Development Silver Award from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC).
IEDC is the largest membership organization for economic developers in the world. The honor was presented at an awards ceremony on Tuesday, Oct. 2, during the IEDC Annual Conference in Atlanta, Ga.
“This year our judges reviewed some extraordinary projects that advanced both communities and businesses. We congratulate all the award winners and thank everyone who nominated their projects for sharing their success with fellow IEDC members,” said Craig Richard, CEcD, FM, President and CEO, Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation located in Tampa, Florida, and 2018 IEDC Board Chair. “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.”
This IEDC Award recognized the six partners in the category of Partnerships with Educational Institutions for populations between 200,000 – 500,000. The Partnership Award honors excellence in economic development through meaningful linkages with postsecondary education. NLEP submitted the project on behalf of its higher education and economic development partners.
“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,” said Scott Martinez, NLEP President. “North Louisiana Economic Partnership (NLEP) 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 high education partners and economic development organizations is an excellent example of the impact from partnerships.”
Louisiana Tech, NSU and BPCC partnered with GDIT to expand the IT talent pipeline coming out of the three schools. Funded by a higher education initiative from LED and supported by NLEP, the program allowed GDIT to ramp up its workforce to 1,000 employees. In fact, 30 percent of GDIT’s workforce are veterans ̶ many exiting active duty from Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier, LA.
“This award recognizes excellence in economic development in Louisiana, through our best-in-class partnerships with leading companies and our community colleges and 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 allowed GDIT to establish 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 in North Louisiana as a leading location for growing technology companies.”
The collaboration with GDIT demonstrates how partnerships can transform a region’s economy. A driving force behind the rapid growth of North Louisiana’s Cyber Corridor is the expansion of the area’s IT-skilled workforce, in part fostered by our high education institutions’ push to dramatically expand their 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,” 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 related IT 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 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. The state funding allowed the schools to hire faculty and staff, created student scholarships, supported student recruitment efforts and faculty development. Input from GDIT also ensured 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,” said Northwestern State University President Dr. Chris Maggio. “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.”