Last month I wrote about some of Lafayette’s assets that make the community attractive to businesses. Continuing that discussion, let’s focus on the growing technology workforce that will put Lafayette’s technology infrastructure to the test and help man the emerging digital media sector.
Lafayette’s concentration of wealth-creating businesses (mining, manufacturing, construction and information) is complemented by our strong tradition of innovative advancements, and now Lafayette is directing its momentum toward becoming a hub for technology in the South. Lafayette’s unique technology package includes resources such as the Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise, LUS’ fiber to the premise initiative and a growing bank of digital media assets. It’s these public resources and their utilization by the private sector that is making Lafayette a next-generation city.
The growth of our technology workforce is a direct result of the increased use of these resources. This growth demonstrates that, through a cohesive approach to education and training and the utilization of our technology infrastructure, local businesses can create and sustain the technology jobs of today and the future.
Every two years the Louisiana Workforce Commission releases its 10-year Occupational Projection. The commission, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics, surveys a sample of Louisiana firms on the occupational composition of their workforce and the wages for those occupations. This data is then used to develop specific occupational projections. The survey is based on the Standard Occupational Classification system; and all workers are classified into one of more than 820 occupations according to their occupational definition.
When looking at the Computer and Mathematical Occupation 2006-2016 projections in the Acadiana region, of the seven occupations evaluated, Acadiana growth outpaces the state in four of the occupations. For two of the remaining three, Acadiana growth lags the state by only a couple of percentage points. In fact, network systems and data communications analysts, with a projected growth of 72.2 percent, is the fifth fastest growing occupation in the region as a whole. Lafayette is on the leading edge of some great technology; and as new businesses and positions are created future, occupational projections should reflect the continued growing need.
Our commitment to technology coupled with the ingenuity of our local government and business leaders has allowed Acadiana to become the first, the best, and the most resourceful player in a variety of tech sectors. Today’s technology workers, especially here in Acadiana, are at the forefront of their industries developing new innovations and processes to make everyday dealings easier for both business and customer. In Lafayette, technology jobs aren’t limited to IT companies. Nearly every business regardless of size uses some kind of technology — whether it’s just one PC to check e-mails or a network of hundreds of computers in multiple locations. And technology jobs can be found in just about every industry. Local companies like Stuller, Inc., Lafayette General Medical Center (CyberKnife Center), and Fenstermaker and Associates have revolutionized their respective industries by developing or using cutting-edge technology to enhance their products and services.
Lafayette’s wildcatter resourcefulness has been recently demonstrated with the landing of the Disney Picture movie, Secretariat. Community stakeholders banded together to locate administrative offices, soundstage space, as well as performing some preliminary location scouting. Sure, film crews will be in town through the remainder of the year, but even more exciting to many in the technology sector is that Disney’s editors — normally stationed in Los Angeles — will set up shop in LITE to take advantage of Lafayette’s technology infrastructure.
The technology infrastructure and human assets of Lafayette are not only integral pieces to the appeal of the region to the film and other digital media sectors, but are also catalysts for our education system. It is projects like this that will spur on-the-job training for some individuals, as well as support existing training programs and the development of new curricula in the education system at all levels.
Lafayette’s technological selling points that community leaders have been touting for years are now coming to fruition — enhancing research and development, fostering collaboration on the international stage and providing high-speed data exchanges. With targeted recruitment, workforce development, and utilization of state digital media and R&D incentives, LEDA works to continue the accelerated growth of the technology sector in Lafayette Parish.
To view charts click here .
Gregg Gothreaux is president and chief executive officer of the Lafayette Economic Development Authority.