In November 2017, officials from DXC Technology announced the company’s selection of New Orleans as the site of its new 2,000-job Digital Transformation Center, the first of its kind in the United States and the single largest Digital Transformation Center the company has ever built. New Orleans edged out 30 American cities to win the project, after a relentless economic development process that lasted for more than a year.
The announcement confirmed Louisiana’s success in building a fast-growing software and IT sector. High profile companies such as EA, CenturyLink, IBM, CSRA, CGI, GE Digital and others have invested in Louisiana facilities across the state in the last decade. These substantial facilities ranging from Monroe and Bossier City to Lafayette and Baton Rouge are transforming Louisiana into a substantial digital technology development hub.
These investments can be attributed to a business-friendly climate, a progressive digital media tax credit and LED FastStart®, ranked the No. 1 state workforce development program in the country for eight consecutive years. Louisiana has also developed a reputation for its collaborative higher education sector and the lack of territoriality that can exist between state and local officials. Those factors and others helped LED create a compelling package that convinced DXC officials New Orleans was the right site for its major expansion.
“We’re thrilled to become a member of the New Orleans community,” said Mike Lawrie, DXC Technology’s chairman, president and CEO. “Our Digital Transformation Center will be a world-class facility in every way. It will be integral to DXC’s strategic growth objectives, deliver transformative next-generation digital IT services and solutions to our clients, and create new opportunities for current and future employees.”
Lawrie and other company officials found New Orleans to be a culturally diverse city on the ascent, capable of attracting and keeping young talent.
CSRA in Bossier City, Louisiana, will be home to 800 jobs and is just one in a series of notable investments by the software and IT sector.
“We saw New Orleans as a place that could not only attract millennials, but also the next generation of talent,” said Stephen Hilton, executive vice president, Global Delivery Organization. “At our Digital Transformation Center, our teams are going to be developing pioneering solutions that aren’t even in the marketplace yet. We need well-trained thinkers and creatives who can pioneer new products.”
The State of Louisiana secured the project with a strategic process and an incentive package that included performance-based grants and higher education support that will help expand the number of technology graduates in the state.
It took months of behind-the-scenes planning and executing strategies to ensure Louisiana stayed competitive every step of the way.
Over the last decade, Louisiana has made innovative economic development a top priority, creating landmark incentive programs like LED FastStart® and the Digital Interactive Media and Software Development Incentive, which have helped the state attract a variety of sectors beyond its bedrock petrochemical industry. The DXC project showcases the forward-thinking approach LED has become known for.
The project began in spring 2016, when the economic development advisory firm RealScape Group reached out to LED’s team. At the beginning of the project, the team was asked to put together a site selection package for a 1,000-job expansion for CSC, a technology company that had established an 800-job technology center in the National Cyber Research Park in Bossier City in 2014. But several months later, CSC and Hewlett Packard’s Enterprise Services business merged to form DXC. A year later in April 2017, the number of jobs rose from 1,000 to 2,000 as the objectives of the expansion site crystallized.
DXC will be located on Poydras Street across from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in the New Orleans Central Business District.
The Louisiana team moved quickly to narrow the focus to a metropolitan area that could provide adequate real estate opportunities for office space and parking. The team had to ensure that the location would be capable of recruiting and keeping a large pool of talented young people whose skills would be in high demand nationwide.
A key factor that helped Louisiana win the project was its ability to ensure DXC that it could meet a critical corporate objective: hiring veterans.
Giving veterans a place to work helps fulfill a company priority to acknowledge the sacrifice of members of the armed forces, to hire a diverse workforce and to bring a highly trained group of workers into the fold. Former service members bring relevant skill sets, an impressive work ethic, and in some cases, security clearances that could otherwise take several months to obtain, said Hilton.
As part of its strategy, the LED team worked closely with Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs to identify steps to leverage the state’s deep talent base of military service members exiting active duty. Military installations in Louisiana include Fort Polk, Barksdale Air Force Base and the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base near New Orleans, and account for more than 80,000 military and civilian jobs.
Additionally, LED FastStart, the country’s well-established state workforce development leader, built confidence in Louisiana with its ideas for creating custom-fit recruitment and training solutions for DXC. FastStart was able to showcase a portfolio of projects for companies that have made major investments in Louisiana. FastStart’s work products include turnkey recruitment materials for modern audiences and innovative training programs and applications.
“ From the very beginning, FastStart was extremely service-oriented and attentive. They treated us like a valued client. It wasn’t about creating a boilerplate solution. It was about understanding that we needed to attract a specific type of employee. ”
In addition to FastStart, Louisiana offered another key component to directly address DXC’s concerns about workforce. The higher education community was brought to the table to demonstrate how it could help grow the graduation rate of computer science and other technology majors within targeted institutions.
“What stood out most in these meetings was the degree of collaboration among officials from different higher education systems in Louisiana,” said LED Business Development Director Paige Carter, who managed the DXC project. “Competition was checked at the door, and the leadership of the Louisiana State University System, the University of Louisiana System, the Southern University System and the Louisiana Community and Technical College System developed a partnership with one goal: expanding or creating relevant curriculum programs that would support DXC and better equip Louisiana graduates.”
Higher education officials met multiple times, said Carter, each time drilling down further into details about how to create or expand relevant curriculum programs.
“There was tremendous collaboration among the education officials. We were very impressed by the lack of silos in Louisiana. Everyone displayed a willingness to partner and move the project forward.”
The team saw an opportunity to not only meet the needs of a major corporate partner, but to better prepare Louisiana graduates for high-demand tech fields.
“LSU is pleased to be part of this partnership investing in higher education and the workforce of Louisiana,” said LSU President F. King Alexander. “Bringing a partnership like this to the New Orleans area and to LSU’s campus is a win for the entire state.”
“Our partnership with this industry leader and LED will enable us to create and enhance curricula, further develop our world-class faculty and produce a workforce that gives the greater New Orleans region a competitive advantage,” University of Louisiana System President Jim Henderson agreed.
It was apparent throughout the discussions with DXC that Louisiana higher education officials were sincere in their commitment to partner and share resources to help make the project happen, said Monty Sullivan, president of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System.
“At the heart of this decision was the commitment by Governor John Bel Edwards, his team and the combined efforts of the higher education community to provide the workforce necessary to ensure success for our newest business partner. We look forward to the partnership.”
Carter said the state and local economic development team put considerable work into showcasing the assets of the city of New Orleans, including the teamwork among organizations such as Greater New Orleans Inc. and the New Orleans Business Alliance.
It was also important, said Carter, to reveal New Orleans not just as a well-known tourist destination with a distinct culture, but as a business-friendly city with excellent quality of life amenities.
“We recognized that we needed to make sure the DXC team knew that New Orleans had diverse neighborhoods, generous greenspace, recreational opportunities, alternative transportation and nightlife,” she said. “As we moved further along in the process, it became really important to get this point across.”
In one of the final meetings with DXC officials, the Louisiana team hosted a gathering on the 50-yard line of the Superdome where they showed a dynamic three-minute video on New Orleans’ quality of life. Corporate partner Entergy produced the video for the site selection gathering, demonstrating the private sector’s support in making the case for New Orleans. Seeing the vibrancy of New Orleans played on the Dome’s massive screen helped seal the deal, said Carter.
On November 13, 2017, DXC and Louisiana officials announced the company’s final decision to establish a 2,000-job Digital Transformation Center in New Orleans, based in the Freeport McMoRan Building on Poydras Street across from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in the Central Business District.
Jobs Over Five Years
Estimated Economic Output
DXC will hire 300 IT and business professionals in 2018, ramping up to 2,000 jobs over the next five years. The LSU Economics and Policy Research Group estimates the total economic output of the project from 2018 to 2025 to be $3.2 billion.
Business Facilities magazine honored DXC’s Digital Transformation Center as the nation’s No. 2 project in its 2017 Economic Development Deal of the Year competition.
“Louisiana is a prime destination for companies investing in growing fields like software development, cybersecurity and IT services,” Governor John Bel Edwards said. “The recognition of our progress by Business Facilities is a testament to DXC’s impact in our state and to Louisiana’s ability to attract game-changing projects.”