Can we fully extend the technology revolution going on in Bossier-Shreveport down I-20? That question came to mind after perusing a few articles I came across.

The first article was highlighting the technology-driven industries in the Shreveport-Bossier area.

Innovation & Tech Today (https://innotechtoday.com/innovation-in-shreveport/) highlighted, not only the technology opportunities, but the hometown feel of the market.

For tech companies like,“…the government information technology company CSRA, the decision to define a presence in the area is simply because modern Louisiana offers such great opportunity,” said the article.

“Located in Bossier City, CSRA built and opened their new state-of-the-art Integrated Technology Center (ITC) in November of last year. The ITC brought with it 800 new IT jobs…”

As Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said in a press release after the opening of EATEL’s Shreveport datacenter in 2016, “Shreveport and Bossier City are blazing a new technology corridor that extends to Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, CenturyLink in Monroe and to other points along Interstate 20.”

We have towns like Minden right in the middle of that corridor. So what do we do about it?

Hold that thought.

As I pondered the implications of this opportunity, I ran across another article. This time, it was the Dallas Business Journal. The story, titled, “Coding school adds second DFW location, could have 10 within two years,” really grabbed my attention. (http://www.bizjournals.com/dallas/news/2017/06/12/coding-school-adds-second-dfw-location-could-have.html)

“Silicon Valley-based theCoderSchool opened in Flower Mound last week to go along with its Frisco location. The company caters to 7- to 18-year-olds and sells memberships to parents on a monthly basis.”

Now, I know almost zero about coding. But, I do understand economic development.

When a major manufacturer opens a plant in an area, there are satellite businesses that pop up to serve the manufacturer. For instance, when an auto manufacturer locates in an area, there are many sub-manufacturers and service providers that open within a short distance. Using that logic, it would make sense that technology companies would want technology workforce locally available.

The Cyber Innovation Center in Bossier City realized this early. “The CIC was started with one goal in mind: to improve the number of people entering the workforce with the skills necessary to go into jobs in cybersecurity…To do that, the CIC developed a cybersecurity education curriculum that extends into middle and high schools to help to address the problem colleges and universities have of too few applicants with the necessary foundation for advanced cybersecurity career paths.”

That curriculum is now in use in all 50 states.

So, what can we do to extend this type of workforce creation to towns throughout the I-20 corridor, like Minden? Perhaps we can recruit the same company that is opening these schools in Dallas. Perhaps we can make coding curriculum a priority in our schools.

We are staring at a bona fide opportunity for our area. Real jobs for our kids. Close jobs. High-paying jobs.

Now that we know, what will we do about it?

  

David Specht is CEO of Specht Newspapers Inc., which owns the Bossier Press-Tribune, Minden Press-Herald and BIZ. Magazine.