High-Tech Heats up Louisiana
Learn more about the projects, programs, and incentives that make technology thrive, in exclusive conversations with Mark Lewis, President, Louisiana Technology Council.
Area Development Online News Desk (Southern Tech Sites 2008)
Q. What are the state's strongest technology sectors?
A. Cyber-security is an area of expansion. Shreveport and Bossier City have dedicated $50 million to a Cyber Innovation Center (CIC) north of the Barksdale Air Force Base. This area is expected to become a primary location for cyber-security for the country. Part of the project is the National Cyber Research Park that will promote research and emerging cyberspace technologies, and encourage collaboration between government, private industry, and higher education. The CIC compliments existing cyber components at Barksdale AFB such as the Cyber Combat Development Center, Cyber Strike, and Air Force Network Operations Center.
In another technology area, NASA's Michoud facility is preparing for significant expansion of its advanced manufacturing capabilities for the space program and the new Aries project, the follow-up technology to the shuttle. The area offers significant incentives as a result of Hurricane Katrina, research and development tax breaks, and GO Zone initiatives. At the Michoud facility, a major contract, which will be awarded by the end of the year, will allow a transition to improve processes and create a major aerospace and advanced materials facility over the next five to 10 years.
Our technology sector continues to improve in strength and efficiency. In New Orleans, the Department of Agriculture's National Finance Center is one of four payroll processing centers for the federal government. They have about 1,700 employees and continue to grow. When Hurricane Katrina hit, the processing center was temporarily relocated and never missed a payroll or lost any data. They have since moved back to their New Orleans facility. In other technology, the Lafayette Immersive Technology Enterprise (LITE) has one of largest supercomputers in the world. LITE is also hooked up to the Louisiana Optical Network Initiative (LONI) that connects all major universities for the sharing of research and data.
Q. What are your future goals?
A. Our goal at LTC is to bring value-added support services to increase technology development. We hold CIO forums where national business leaders discuss incentives, entrepreneurship, and innovation with local companies. Many of our technology initiatives grew after Hurricane Katrina. Opportunity grew out of disaster, and technology plays an important role in that growth.