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|CenturyLink to expand, remain in Monroe|
Monroe-based CenturyLink will add 350 new jobs over the next four years under terms of a deal announced Wednesday by Gov. Bobby Jindal.
Appearing at CenturyLink headquarters, Jindal also announced CenturyLink has agreed to maintain its corporate offices in Monroe through at least 2019.
Jindal said he made the trip to Monroe to highlight the importance of the announcement not just to the Monroe area but also to the state and to the nation.
The new jobs for the Monroe area are largely the result of the merger of CenturyTel and EMBARQ earlier this year. Combined, the two companies formed CenturyLink, the fourth largest telephone company in the nation.
"Because of the importance of CenturyLink to Monroe, to northeast Louisiana, to our entire state, I've taken a very personal interest in this entire process, " said Jindal. "I've met with Glen (Post, CenturyLink President) and other key executives to discuss challenges related to the merger."
Jindal administration officials worked with the two companies to ensure the continued operations in Louisiana, according to Jindal.
"Whenever there is a merger, whenever there's acquisition, whenever there's change, there is always uncertainty," Jindal said. "There is always risk, but there is always opportunity."
The combined operations of CenturyTel and EMBARQ created an economic powerhouse with more than 21,000 employees, according to Jindal.
Jindal said the new Monroe-based jobs would bring in an average salary of $45,000 a year plus benefits.
"That's 350 great-paying new jobs right here in Louisiana, our state," Jindal said.
Additionally, the new jobs will lead to the creation of at least 520 indirect jobs, Jindal said.
"Think about the boost for our community and for our state," Jindal said.
Post called the merger with EMBARQ "a defining moment" in the company's history.
"Our growth opportunities across the nation and here in Louisiana represent an exciting future for our company and our employees," said Post. "The state has stepped up to make Louisiana more business friendly and we appreciate their efforts and the incentives being put forth today and in the years to come."
State economic development officials worked with CenturyLink executives to craft an incentives package that will help the company defray the cost of relocating employees from other locations throughout the country. As much as $5 million over four years will be spent through the state's Rapid Response Fund. Also, an additional $600,000 will be available during the next two years to defray air transportation expenses incurred during the merger.
On another front, the state will provide some $900,000 in funding to create the Clarke M. Williams professorship in telecommunications at La. Tech University in Ruston.
Named for the founder of CenturyTel, the new professorship will focus on establishing a certificate program at La. Tech to cater to the workforce needs of CenturyLink, Jindal said.
Jindal said the incentives package and the programs at La. Tech were just part of a comprehensive program developed to keep CenturyLink in the area.
"CenturyLink joins a long list of companies staying and growing in Louisiana," Jindal said.
Jindal touted the merger and expansion of CenturyLink as one of many successes in northeastern Louisiana.
Since taking office last year, Jindal said he has had the privilege to announce "well over 10,000 jobs and half a billion dollars of capital investment" in northeast Louisiana.
"Northeast Louisiana and Monroe are increasingly being regarded as a great place for doing business," Jindal said.
Jindal highlighted his administration's continued support of existing companies and said he will continue to use resources at his disposal to encourage and foster expansion of existing businesses throughout the state.
"The majority of our discretionary incentives have been awarded to companies that are already here, since I've taken office," Jindal said.
A Fortune 500 company, CenturyLink currently employs about 1,300 people in Monroe. The annual payroll exceeds $70 million.