From the desk of President Leslie K. Guice
Connecting along the I-20 Corridor
My activities this week focused on building connections along the I-20 corridor and ensuring that we at Louisiana Tech are providing leadership and support for building partnerships for economic prosperity in the region.The announcement of IBM’s opening of an Applications Development and Innovation Center in Monroe on Monday made it clear that the opportunities to “light the I-20 corridor” with high-quality jobs and new career opportunities for our graduates is not so far in the future. Thanks to the leadership of CenturyLink CEO Glen Post, IBM and other major corporations are beginning to bring corporate investments and job opportunities to Monroe. I was pleased to be at CenturyLink Headquarters for the IBM announcement on Monday, and look forward to continued dialogue and planning with IBM and CenturyLink corporate leaders about how we can further support their workforce development needs. Later in the week, I was invited to speak with the Minden Lion’s Club, and the focus of my remarks was on the increasing economic opportunities along the I-20 corridor and the importance of higher education in driving those activities. Minden is one of the largest cities along the I-20 corridor in Louisiana – and there are numerous successful businesses in that community. Minden has also been blessed with entrepreneurial business leaders who have been drivers for corporate growth there. We have many excellent Tech students from Minden and many of our alumni live in that community. One of those alumni has led the development of an entrepreneurial gas-to-liquid pilot plant operation in Minden based upon Louisiana Tech research and innovations. Thursday afternoon, our Chief Innovation Officer Davy Norris brought a group of investors to campus to discuss the potential for establishing an Angel Investment Network in north Louisiana to support the growth of new technology businesses in the region. Thanks in large part to Davy’s leadership and the innovation level of our faculty and students, there is an increasing number of promising technology-related business opportunities that have demonstrated readiness for investment. This is a critically important component for building a sustainable high-growth and prosperous economy. On Friday morning, my Cyber Innovation Center colleague Craig Spohn brought another business leader from Shreveport to learn more about what Tech is doing to advance educational and economic opportunities along the I-20 corridor. Our partnership with the CIC and the Bossier City community has resulted in the establishment of Computer Sciences Corporation’s new Technology Integration Center in Bossier City, and we are working together to bring more opportunities to Bossier City and Ruston. Combining the 400 new jobs from IBM, 850 new jobs from CenturyLink, and 800 new jobs from CSC along with those new jobs in several other smaller companies, we can say that the “lighting of the I-20 corridor” is more than a dream. On Friday evening, I was pleased to be invited to speak at the Louisiana Engineering Society Annual Meeting in Shreveport. It was great to renew relationships with many of my former students and colleagues. The focus of my presentation to them was on the dramatic changes in higher education and how those changes are impacting engineers and society. Many of those engineers in attendance are already seeing the impacts of the business growth in NW Louisiana as new companies require investments in infrastructure, housing and schools. They also acknowledged how important it is that we as a university increase our production of graduates who can support their growth. I encouraged the business leaders that I met with this week to help us find solutions for higher education funding this year to ensure that we can sustain the progress that is being made in creating a more prosperous economy and opportunities for our citizens.