J.B. Mouton Builds CGI in Lafayette
By Ken Stickney from THE DAILY ADVERTISER
“It’s a great public-private relationship,” LeBar said.
CGI, now 40 years old, operates with more than 68,000 employees in countries around the globe.
Former Gov. Bobby Jindal, at the building’s groundbreaking ceremony a year ago, said CGI marked “an important win” for Lafayette, as it tries to diversify its economy with robust employment in information technology.
The state invested in the company’s move here, and CGI’s presence, in turn, has made an impact in the local economy.
The state offered CGI up to $5.3 million to reimburse the company for personnel relocation, recruiting, training and building operating costs. Lafayette Economic Development Authority offered CGI $1.1 million.
The state also committed $4.5 million to UL over the next 10 years, money the university will use to hire additional faculty and educate additional students in its IT department. The goal is to educate and prepare workers for CGI and other technology companies locating in Lafayette.
The return for Lafayette is expected to be huge.
Gregg Gothreaux, president and CEO of the Lafayette Economic Development Authority, said CGI is the fifth-largest technology solutions provider in the world.
At full staff, CGI will employ 400 workers in Lafayette at a total estimated payroll of $22 million. In addition, Louisiana Economic Development said CGI’s operation here will generate another 405 jobs in the area. Workers will provide software development for customers.
“Those 400 jobs are worth the effort,” Gothreaux said. “One needs only to look a the impact numbers to understand this.”
The 10-year economic impact on Lafayette Parish is $929.8 million, LEDA says; $366.2 million of that is “attributed to new income” for Lafayette people. The average annual impact will be $93 million.
LaBar said the company has paid about $15 million in payroll since opening in a temporary location downtown 18 months ago.
LaBar said last week that CGI has aggressively hired Louisiana college graduates from UL and such schools as LSU and Southern University. He said at least half of the site’s current employees have been hired out of college and about one-third of the current employees have come from “the open market” of employees.
“It’s a nice mix of experience and college graduates,” he said.
LaBar said hires have come from a variety of academic disciplines: computer science, business, finance, engineering, communications, political science and more.
“Good communicators know how to solve problems,” LaBar said.
CGI offers employees abundant benefits, too, he said, including the opportunity to serve diverse clients for a global company, the chance to live in Lafayette and the opportunity for career growth.
“It gives them the opportunity to have meaningful impact in the area where they work” and to share in the company’s philosophy of being “part of the fabric of the community,” he said.
Thus far, CGI has participated in Project Front Yard and helped launch the Paddle Trail App to raise awareness about Bayou Vermilion.
LaBar said hires are called company “members,” not employees, because most of the workforce are shareholders vested with CGI. The company provides health care, life insurance, a 401k, stock purchase plan, dental, vision — the “full gamut” of benefits, he said.
Members also enjoy “flex time” as part of a company that values a “work-life balance.”
An important component of the public-private partnership, LaBar said, was an innovation lab inside the facility where UL students and CGI members will work together. The area seats about 40; the innovation lab will “advance cutting-edge technologies such as cloud computing, cybersecurity, big data and data visualization,” the company said in an issued statement.
Gothreaux suggested CGI’s arrival in Lafayette tells more than the story of one new, iconic company coming to town. CGI helps represent what will be a fourth pillar under Lafayette’s economy. Energy, health care and entertainment have driven most work in the community, he said, but technology adds a new, profitable source of jobs.
“Lafayette and Acadiana are rich in culture, creativity and can-do spirit. Our people deserve a quality of life that only an educated savvy workforce and a diversified economy can deliver,” he said. “We have prepared ourselves and we must take the next step. Our community leadership and our university leadership will lead. We must all work for continuous improvement and growth with a united and common bond to achieve greatness as a community.”