Growing GE Capital Customer Base Drives Need For Technology Center
As a major part of one of the world’s most successful companies, General Electric, GE Capital has incredible reach, providing capital for real estate and corporate acquisitions, refinancing and restructuring for over one million businesses, large and small. GE Capital also provides financing to purchase, lease and distribute equipment.
Through credit card and retail sales finance programs, GE Capital has more than 100 million consumer customers in over 50 countries. Its 50,000 employees manage countless transactions from all corners of the globe.
In 2010, as GE Capital took on more customers, it became crucial for the company to establish a technology center dedicated to supporting the company’s financial products and customer functions. GE already had established technology centers in Michigan and Virginia to support the operations of the parent company, but GE Capital was handling millions of transactions and needed its own dedicated center of support.
Committed to developing a new technology center to assist employees and the transactions they handled, GE Capital executives began the process of evaluating locations in which they could place the facility. The ideal location would be a hub for digital media and software development, and company leadership had several requirements, including: a deep pool of talent to handle the software development and technological support; collaboration with nearby academic institutions to establish a pipeline of talent for the future; and state support to foster a growing tech sector.
New Orleans Offers GE Capital Access To Skilled Talent Pool
By 2010, Louisiana had emerged as a growing tech hub, so much so that by 2012, Louisiana ranked No. 1 for digital media performance by Business Facilitiesmagazine. Several factors facilitated this growth, including lower operating costs in the state, aggressive tax credits, an exceptional quality of life and a renewed cooperation among city, state and federal leaders. These factors created an ideal climate for tech growth attracting digital media and software development firms to Louisiana, including Electronic Arts, Moonbot Studios and Pixel Magic VFX. Digital game developer Gameloft also invested in Louisiana, creating a game design studio in New Orleans.
Because of the city’s talent pool and access to academic resources, economic development officials positioned New Orleans as a model location for new tech development.
In late 2010, as GE Capital was conducting a nationwide evaluation of locations for its technology center, LED cultivated technology-related economic development opportunities for the credit provider. These efforts continued into 2011, as LED partnered with Greater New Orleans Inc., the New Orleans Business Alliance and the New Orleans Mayor’s Office. Together, these economic development partners collaborated on a plan to position New Orleans as the paramount location for GE Capital’s new IT Center.
Economic development officials in New Orleans acknowledged that competition for the GE Capital investment was tough. But, with the skilled workforce and world-class infrastructure of New Orleans, and robust support from state and local levels, LED and its partners were confident their efforts could attract GE Capital.
LED officials created a customized incentive package to address the needs of the company. It was important that GE Capital have the opportunity to collaborate with academic institutions not only to develop future talent, but also to support the local community. To ensure success, the state committed $5 million and paid over 10 years to fund expanded computer-science programs at the University of New Orleans and other universities. This partnership with local universities will facilitate a pipeline of highly trained and educated graduates to take on key roles at the company.
To further support the company’s workforce needs, the state provided the services of LED FastStart® — the No. 1 workforce recruitment and training program in the nation. The customized incentive package primarily addressed GE Capital’s workforce needs, but provided additional benefits. The state offered a $10.7 million performance-based grant to the credit provider to reimburse costs associated with relocation, recruitment, office refurbishment, lease expenses and office equipment. Additionally, GE Capital qualified for the state’s Quality Jobs program, which provides them with a six percent annual rebate against new payroll for the first 10 years of operations.
GE Capital Technology Center Makes Its Home In New Orleans
In February of 2012, Brackett Denniston, GE senior vice president and general counsel, joined state and local leaders to announce the creation of the GE Capital IT Center of Excellence in New Orleans.
“We took our time to select a location for this important center,” said Denniston. “We looked all over the country but, after much consideration, New Orleans rose to the top of our list.”
The center will be home to 300 high-quality technology jobs and serve as a major resource for GE Capital employees across the nation. Executives announced GE Capital will occupy 60,000 square feet of office space in the New Orleans Central Business District.
“We are proud to be bringing this state-of-the-art facility to one of America’s signature cities in a state committed to growth,” said Denniston. “This center will be an important resource for GE Capital and the New Orleans community.”
After the announcement, LED FastStart began the process of identifying the best talent for GE Capital. FastStart provided enhanced workforce development solutions, including the customized recruitment of individuals with the necessary technology skills. FastStart assisted in the creation and design of recruiting media resources, including videos and a landing page for a website showcasing the life and cultural features of New Orleans.
These recruiting services proved successful. At the dedication of the Technology Center in April 2013, GE officials announced that they were ahead of their hiring schedule. The company had created 100 jobs on its way to full employment of 300 workers by 2015.
FastStart is also developing training resources for GE Capital, including customer video scenarios for GE Capital covering various professional development topics. FastStart is working with GE Capital’s marketing division to create a unique identity for the New Orleans site operations, designing graphics to be used on further social media-based recruiting campaigns.