MONROE, La. - Today, Gov. Bobby Jindal and CenturyLink CEO and President Glen F. Post III announced the Fortune 500 company and the state have entered into an incentive agreement for CenturyLink to remain headquartered in Monroe, expand its headquarters and produce 800 new jobs in the state by 2016. These positions will be in addition to the 350-job expansion previously announced in late 2009, so by 2016 the incentive agreement calls for the company to have added nearly 1,150 new jobs in Northeast Louisiana beyond its employment level in mid-2009.
Louisiana Economic Development estimates the nearly 800 new direct jobs averaging more than $65,000, plus benefits, should result in the creation of approximately 1,170 indirect jobs, for a total impact of nearly 1,970 new jobs. Once the expansion, as described in the incentive agreement, is completed by 2016, LED estimates CenturyLink will become the top economic-driver company in Northeast Louisiana and one of the top 10 economic-driver companies statewide, based on its direct and indirect employment impact.
Gov. Jindal said, "Today's announcement is a huge win for Monroe, Northeast Louisiana and our whole state. Today, we're announcing a new partnership that will not only retain CenturyLink in Louisiana for the long term, but will also create more high-paying job opportunities for the people of Northeast Louisiana so they can find rewarding careers and pursue their dreams right here at home. CenturyLink truly is one of Louisiana's great business success stories, and we are thrilled they will continue their growth right here in Louisiana."
In July 2009, CenturyLink, which was called CenturyTel at the time, acquired Kansas-based Embarq Corp. to create an industry leading communications provider. Immediately after the merger was announced, and to ensure that the headquarters remained in Louisiana, Gov. Jindal called for LED to engage company executives to develop a support plan to retain and grow CenturyLink employment in Louisiana. That effort resulted in a commitment by CenturyLink in November 2009 to maintain its headquarters in Monroe and to increase its Louisiana employment by 350 jobs.
Gov. Jindal met with CenturyLink's Board of Directors and continued to work with the company even after it announced the acquisition of Denver-based Qwest Corp. in April 2010, which culminated in today's announcement of an incentive agreement calling for CenturyLink to add nearly 800 more jobs in Northeast Louisiana, including but not limited to relocated positions. A new cooperative endeavor agreement executed between CenturyLink and LED also will keep the company's headquarters in Louisiana through at least 2020.
Upon completing its Qwest merger in April, CenturyLink now operates a fiber network of 190,000 route-miles in 37 states. The combined company had $18.5 billion in pro forma revenues in 2010. CenturyLink serves more than 5 million broadband customers and more than 15 million access lines across the U.S.
"We appreciate the state's efforts to support CenturyLink's growth during this pivotal time in our history," Post said. "As we move forward, we will continually evaluate our staffing needs to support our business, and we are pleased to remain headquartered in Louisiana. Our expectation is that our Northeast Louisiana-based workforce will grow over the next five years through job creation, voluntary employee turnover in locations outside Louisiana, employee-initiated moves to pursue career opportunities and, in some cases, business decisions to move jobs currently located elsewhere to Northeast Louisiana."
To secure the headquarters expansion agreement, LED negotiated a customized incentive package, including a performance-based grant of $14.9 million to pay for 50 percent of building or leasing additional headquarters space in Monroe, as well as a performance-based grant of $3.3 million to reimburse relocation costs. LED also will provide $1.2 million over four years to expand CenturyLink's telecommunications partnership with Louisiana Tech University that initially was announced with the prior expansion in 2009. LED also will provide up to 150,000 square feet of discounted space in the state-owned Accent Building in Monroe through 2015, which will be utilized, if needed, as swing space for CenturyLink staff during construction of expanded headquarters facilities. CenturyLink also is expected to continue utilizing the LED FastStart® program, as well as LED's Quality Jobs program.
Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo said, "It's a testament to our community and state that while companies across the nation are dealing with a national and global economic storm, our region is seeing tremendous investments by first-class companies such as CenturyLink. This company's commitment and expansion within our community means hundreds of new jobs and opportunities for our children. Now, when students are graduating and looking for a good-paying job with a leading company - Monroe will be among some of the top cities on the list."
Monroe Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Sue Nicholson said, "This is a historic win for Monroe and all of Louisiana. We are so proud of CenturyLink and appreciate their continued investment in our community. We applaud Gov. Jindal and his administration for their diligent work to help CenturyLink expand and grow their headquarters here in Monroe. Our community and Northeast Louisiana will benefit well into the future from the jobs, opportunities and revenue that will come from this agreement."
Prior to the 2009 announcement, CenturyLink had more than 1,820 jobs in Louisiana. Today, the company has about 1,970 employees in Louisiana. After completion of the expansions described in the incentive agreements announced in 2009 and today, CenturyLink's Louisiana employment will have increased by more than 60 percent to approximately 2,970 direct employees. LED estimates the company's total employment impact following the expansion will be approximately 7,400 direct and indirect jobs in Louisiana.
Since early 2008, leading companies have announced moves of their headquarters or other significant operations to Louisiana from a wide variety of states, including California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri, Illinois, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.
CenturyLink's stature as a provider of broadband communications, Internet Protocol TV, cloud computing and data hosting services cements Louisiana's growing presence in the digital media technology sector.
"As Louisiana places a greater emphasis on cultivating the digital interactive media industry, CenturyLink's growing portfolio of technology services really strengthens our state's position in that arena," said LED Secretary Stephen Moret. "We're convinced that digital media and software development will raise Louisiana's economic standing in a meaningful way and that CenturyLink will be a major player in that growth."
A key point of CenturyLink's Monroe expansion will be the Louisiana Tech partnership. Through the Clarke M. Williams Professorship in Telecommunications, the university will collaborate with CenturyLink to deliver courses that serve the advanced education needs of the company's workforce. A certificate program will build upon the prior education and training of the employees and provide them with skills needed for success in further professional and technical development.
After CenturyLink's latest acquisitions, it will become the largest Fortune 500 company headquartered in Louisiana. The company provides broadband, voice and wireless services to consumers and businesses across the country. It also offers advanced entertainment services under the CenturyLink™ Prism™ TV and DIRECTV brands. In addition, the company provides data, voice and managed services to business, government and wholesale customers in local, national and select international markets through its high-quality, advanced fiber-optic network and multiple data centers. For more information, visit www.centurylink.com.