IBM’s news that the company reached its target of 800 jobs in Baton Rouge is an important milestone for the company, its team, and — perhaps even more importantly — for the technology sector in the Baton Rouge area. It’s newsworthy for our economic development efforts too, because 800 jobs has represented a symbolic threshold that was set in 2013 to justify public incentives to attract the tech giant to Louisiana and Baton Rouge. Not only did IBM hit its goal, but it has continued to hire and grow above that number. It’s a hugely positive sign of things to come.
When it was first announced, the IBM deal was called a “game changer.” It has lived up to the hype, not only because of the jobs themselves, but also because of the benefits to the overall community. Here are some examples:
- LSU and Southern have both increased their computer science enrollment and graduates. LSU has tripled its computer science enrollment, and significantly increased its number of computer science graduates.
- Tech jobs in Baton Rouge have grown by 8% since IBM’s entry in 2013. Talent is the No. 1 consideration for a growing tech industry, so this is paying dividends for companies across the region.
- Personal income across the region has risen over $4 billion during that time. That shot in the arm for market confidence has continued to benefit from IBM’s global brand.
- IBM is hiring from nontraditional talent sources, such as grads from BRCC, regularly. It created an apprenticeship for adults seeking to change careers into the tech space, allowing them to work for IBM while learning new skills.
- IBM partnered with BRCC and EBR Schools to launch a unique tech education program at Tara High School called PTECH, first started in New York City with Mayor Michael Bloomberg. These lucky high-schoolers have a path to a job at IBM from the ninth grade and will finish the program with an associate degree.
- As a pleasant surprise, IBM is showing up in lots of places as an active corporate citizen too, helping to solve problems in Baton Rouge and across the state. It is working with the Baton Rouge Police Department on crime issues, with the Department of Health and Hospitals on Hepatitis C, with LSU on cybersecurity, and with the Water Institute of the Gulf on coastal and water issues.
Finally, IBM has invested five times as much payroll here as it has received in public incentives. The Baton Rouge Area Chamber sends our congratulations to Big Blue for achieving its milestone and continuing to grow, and we pledge to continue to help IBM and our whole tech sector to build our innovation economy.
president and CEO, Baton Rouge Area Chamber