BATON ROUGE, La. — Today, Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson announced Paul Helton will serve as executive director of the nation’s leading state workforce training program, LED FastStart®. A founding member of the FastStart management team, Helton has served as director of the program since early 2009 and became interim executive director in late 2016, when former executive director Jeff Lynn took a new position in Alabama.
LED conducted an extensive search to identify the next permanent leader of LED FastStart, which provides turnkey recruitment and training solutions for companies completing relocation or expansion projects in target industry sectors in Louisiana. For the past seven years, Business Facilities magazine has ranked LED FastStart the No. 1 state workforce training program in the nation.
“LED FastStart is a signature success within Louisiana’s comprehensive toolkit of economic development solutions,” Secretary Pierson said. “On an ongoing basis, we collaborate with our larger system of workforce providers – including the Louisiana Workforce Commission, the Board of Regents and the Louisiana Community and Technical College System – and FastStart’s role within that continuum is a critical one. No one understands that role and the components of our success better than Paul Helton. I’m delighted that Paul has accepted leadership of this program so that we can continue to provide the best industry solutions for Louisiana employers who are rapidly ramping up new operations.”
In a little more than eight years, LED FastStart has trained more than 25,000 individuals for over 160 client companies in Louisiana. FastStart analyzes every aspect of a company’s proposed operation and creates a customized plan for finding the best potential talent to work for the client operation. Additional services include evaluation of job candidates through extensive screening, and delivery of technical, team-based and soft-skills training to the successful candidates. Through a deep understanding of a company’s culture and its project goals, LED FastStart increases the productivity of clients. Their operations get off to a faster start and experience a better bottom line from day one of a new project.
“I’m excited to be leading one of the most accomplished workforce solutions teams to be found anywhere in the world,” Helton said. “Our clients make up the leading edge of economic driver companies who are making major investments here in Louisiana for the future of their companies and the future of their employees. At LED FastStart, we are privileged to play a pivotal role in the future of our state’s economy, and we work hard every day with a determined focus on making the very best recruitment, screening and training products for our clients. Delivering positive outcomes for our clients is what makes LED FastStart the best at what we do. We aim to keep our workforce bar high, and to raise it even higher through continual improvement, innovation and attention to detail."
A U.S. Navy veteran, Helton served as a senior maintenance technician, lead instructor and testing officer for communications systems on the nation’s nuclear submarine fleet. He later became a broadcast network engineer and technical training consultant in the private sector.
In 2002, Helton became training coordinator for Georgia’s Quick Start program, managing and administering all aspects of training for 62 client projects through 2007. Prior to joining LED FastStart in 2009, Helton served as director of economic development for North Metro Technical College (now Chattahoochee Technical College) near Atlanta. Throughout his career, Helton has cultivated productive relationships with local and regional economic development officials, as well as the managers and executives of client companies.
“Without question, a major contributor to FastStart’s success has been the collaborative power of our partnerships,” he said. “My team at FastStart is incredibly talented and they also are very dedicated to discovering what we can do to leverage the best subject-matter experts and skills training from resources across the state. We not only work very hard to identify the best talent available, we reinforce that work by creating the best possible plan for developing that talent.”
A graduate of Regents College (now Excelsior College) of the University of the State of New York, Helton also holds a master’s degree in adult education from the University of Georgia. His professional memberships include the International Economic Development Council, the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals and the Louisiana Industrial Development Executives Association, or LIDEA.
Helton is the incoming president of the National Association of Industry Specific Training Directors; a Cub Scouts den leader; a martial arts practitioner of Tang Soo Do at the seventh gup, or grade level; and a member of the United States Submarine Veterans Inc. group and its Baton Rouge chapter.