From the desk of President Leslie K. Guice
Time to add fuel to an economic engine for North Louisiana
A good university will use its intellectual and programmatic strengths for the betterment of the institution. A great university uses these assets for the betterment of society. Over the past decade, Louisiana Tech has created academic, innovation, and economic development programs that offer our students, graduates, and community new growth opportunities throughout north Louisiana. These programs, with support from our public and private partners, form the backbone of a business-friendly environment that is making north Louisiana one of the most attractive regions in the nation. Economic and community development cannot exist in a vacuum. It relies on institutions like Louisiana Tech and partners like the Cyber Innovation Center, who encourage and actively support an entrepreneurial spirit and who recognize the value of the opportunities that these relationships create. There has been considerable growth of industries and interest in the region, in large part because of the talent the universities provide. And we have a great opportunity to further link higher education more closely with business and industry, to stimulate even greater growth through research, innovation, workforce development, and partnerships. Recent partnerships with global IT companies such as CenturyLink, IBM, and Computer Sciences Corporation have resulted in a new demand for over 2,000 college graduates, from a variety of academic disciplines, to fill new jobs that have been created by these companies. The ripple effect of this job creation and the companies that have selected the I-20 corridor as the place to grow their operations is being felt throughout Ruston and Lincoln Parish as well. For example, Fenway Group, Radiance Technologies, Blue Arx and other companies have brought about 100 high-skill jobs to Tech Pointe in Louisiana Tech’s Enterprise Campus. And Mortgage Contracting Services, which includes some of the mortgage service industry’s best and largest real estate companies in its list of clients, made their decision to locate a 160-employee center in Ruston because of connections to Louisiana Tech. Furthermore, the relationship between Ruston/Lincoln Parish and Louisiana Tech has never been stronger and will continue to offer new opportunities for our community to grow and our graduates to succeed. In addition to our partnerships with public and private organizations and our burgeoning relationship with our local community, Louisiana Tech is proud of the tangible and quantifiable impacts we have made on Ruston/Lincoln Parish and the State of Louisiana. A 2009 economic and community impact study showed that Louisiana Tech’s annual state-wide spending impact is over $450 million and its annual state-wide jobs impact exceeds 4,700. The University’s students, faculty, and staff bring 120,000 visitors each year to the community and each member of our campus community volunteers an average of 60 hours of service to the community per year. And when you consider return on investment, Louisiana Tech generates an economic impact value of approximately $8 for each dollar in funding that it receives from the State of Louisiana. That economic multiplier was calculated when Tech’s state funding was twice the amount it is now. Since most of the University’s revenues now come from tuition & fees and other external sources, it is certain that the return on investment of Louisiana Tech to the state is much higher now. Louisiana Tech is Lincoln Parish’s largest employer, currently employing approximately 1,000 full-time faculty and staff, but over 20% fewer than were employed in 2008. Louisiana Tech is also one of the top 25 employers along the I-20 corridor between Monroe and Shreveport metropolitan service areas. With an annual payroll of $85M and considering the indirect jobs and multiplier effects resulting from service contracts of approximately $30M and capital projects of $25M per year, Louisiana Tech clearly has a major direct impact on the economics of this entire region. Without action, there is no reaction, and it’s clear that Louisiana Tech’s actions have become a driving force in the economic and community growth of our region. Louisiana Tech’s institutional vision is an ambitious one and there is still much that we are striving to achieve. The future success of our University and our region is built on strengthening our existing partnerships while seeking to develop new relationships with the people and the organizations coming into our region. Above all, Louisiana Tech is committed to producing the state’s most highly qualified graduates who are prepared to serve as leaders in society and in organizations across the globe. Graduates leave our campus with educational experiences that extend far beyond the walls of the classroom, opportunities to excel in their personal and professional lives, and relationships that endure long after commencement. They comprise a large part of our institutional and community identity, and we’re proud of how they represent Louisiana Tech University. We are facing a crucial time in Louisiana’s history where the opportunities for economic prosperity for our citizens are within our grasp. Companies have located here to capitalize upon our talent base for filling their high-skill jobs, and we must significantly increase our production of graduates to meet both the immediate and long-term demands. These increasing demands are occurring at a time when there are major uncertainties about state funding for higher education, placing serious constraints on our ability to respond to the demands. Now is the time to add fuel to the economic engine of higher education so that we can win this race for the future of our state.