Search Influence Augments BusinessLED Programs Simplify Fast Growth

In 2006 just months after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans couple Will and Angie Scott created a new business aimed at assisting local companies in recovering from the storm. With backgrounds in marketing and advertising, the Scotts started Search Influence, a search engine optimization, or SEO, company that offered a holistic approach to search, social and online advertising.

“Initially, our focus was on how we could support local businesses,” explained CEO Will Scott. “Our poster child for this endeavor was Chalmette Chiropractic, which was rebranded as Maple Street Chiropractic after Katrina... We helped this local company re-launch and grow its business primarily through Internet marketing.”

With more than 70 full-time employees, Search Influence has grown to be one of the larget online marketing companies on the Gulf Coast.

Today, Search Influence has grown to be one of the largest online marketing companies on the Gulf Coast with more than 70 full-time employees and 30 contract writers supporting hundreds of direct and partner customers. Accelerated growth began in 2010 as the company acquired new business and earned a reputation for consistently delivering innovative strategies to meet client goals.

A contributing factor to Search Influence’s growth was a partnership with LED through its Enterprise Zone, or EZ, program. This incentive provides Louisiana income and franchise tax credits to a new or existing Louisiana-based business that creates permanent net new full-time jobs, and hires at least 50 percent of those jobs from one of four targeted groups. The benefit provides either a one-time tax credit for each net new job created or a rebate of state sales and use taxes paid.

“In 2010, we went to a presentation by GNO, Inc. (New Orleans’ regional economic development organization) to learn about tax credits, and we were introduced to Enterprise Zone,” said COO, Angie Scott. “At the same time, we happened to move our business to a new CPA firm that was very focused on identifying and utilizing credits to help us grow.”

Employees in 2010

Employees at 2016 peak

Like many companies, Search Influence filled new, entry-level positions with recent college graduates. However, Will and Angie quickly became aware that even though this pool had earned degrees in fields such as marketing, advertising and communication, it had little exposure to digital tactical and technical elements, which meant hiring ready-to-work staff was virtually impossible.

“We essentially had to train new employees and we discovered that Enterprise Zone proved to be a useful tool in lessening the burden of this education process,” said Scott.

An additional benefit of the Enterprise Zone program was Search Influence’s ability to replace routinely hired offshore staff with local talent and reduce overall cost per employee. The Scotts described Enterprise Zone as “the baker’s dozen of employees” and used the program extensively over the last seven years growing from around 35 employees in 2010 to, at its peak in 2016, greater than 90. The company has stabilized since then and enjoys the positive relationship they have cultivated with LED.

“While we know LED is out working to bring really huge companies into the state, our partnership with their team illustrates the great job they do of supporting smaller, incumbent companies as well,” said Angie Scott.

“We’ve talked with them about taking advantage of other programs and we enjoy an open line of communication. Whether it’s offering Search Influence the chance to weigh in on Louisiana’s approach to future technology or providing opportunities for us to give back to the community through presentations and seminars, we feel connected to helping grow our state’s economy on multiple levels.”

With a suite of incentive programs for businesses of varying sizes, including programs specifically designed for small businesses, Louisiana continues to demonstrate its dedication to assist with the growth and success of local companies.

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