Gov. Bobby Jindal and CenturyLink CEO and President Glen Post announced an agreement that will maintain CenturyLink's corporate headquarters in Louisiana and add 350 Louisiana-based jobs over the next four years. The governor made the announcement following a meeting with CenturyLink's board of directors. Over the last several months, Gov. Jindal and his economic development team have been working with CenturyLink executives to establish a plan that would ensure the long-term competitiveness of the company in Louisiana.
Gov. Jindal said, "Today's announcement is a huge win for Monroe and Northeast Louisiana -- and it caps off an historic year of job creation in Northeast Louisiana. CenturyLink has been one of our state's top private-sector employers for many years, which is why we worked aggressively after the announcement of the merger to develop a comprehensive support plan to ensure that CenturyLink will stay and grow right here for many years to come. Today, we're announcing a new partnership that will not only retain CenturyLink in Louisiana for the long term, but will also create more opportunity for the people of Northeast Louisiana so they can find rewarding careers and pursue their dreams right here at home."
In July 2009, CenturyTel acquired Kansas-based EMBARQ to create an industry leading communications provider -- a company with an expanded suite of products and solutions for its customers and communities, as well as greater financial strength and stability. Immediately after the merger was announced, and to ensure that the headquarters remained in Louisiana, Gov. Jindal called for Louisiana Economic Development to engage company executives to develop a support plan to retain and grow CenturyLink employment in Louisiana.
Now the fourth-largest local exchange telephone company in the United States and Louisiana's third Fortune 500 company, CenturyLink has more than 7.1 million access lines and more than 2.1 million broadband customers and 20,000 employees in 33 states. The company is a leading provider of high-quality voice, broadband and video services with advanced communications networks reaching consumers and businesses.
"The merger with EMBARQ is a defining event in our company's history," said Post. "Our growth opportunities across the nation and here in Louisiana represent an exciting future for our company and our employees. 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. Our people are the engine that drives our success, and we will continue to add jobs and training to enhance the quality of our workforce."
Under the terms of today's agreement, CenturyLink has committed to increase its Louisiana workforce by adding at least 100 jobs in 2010, an additional 150 in 2011, and 50 in each of 2012 and 2013. The agreement requires that the newly added jobs will be maintained through at least 2019 with an average compensation of at least $45,000, plus benefits. The agreement also calls for CenturyLink's corporate headquarters to remain in Louisiana through at least 2019, with incentive reimbursements being owed should that not be the case.
In addition to the new direct jobs, this expansion is also expected to lead to the creation of more than 520 new, permanent indirect jobs. In the next 10 years, LED estimates that the expansion will generate $20.3 million in new state tax revenues and $13.5 million in new local tax revenues, excluding the value of any new property taxes.
In total, Gov. Jindal has announced economic development wins in Northeast Louisiana that have a total direct and indirect impact of more than 10,000 jobs and more than half a billion dollars of capital investment.
"When the merger was announced, we saw it as an exciting opportunity for CenturyTel, but also as a potential threat to the company's professional employment in Louisiana," said LED Secretary Stephen Moret. "Typically mergers are expected to generate operating synergies that often lead to job losses. Accordingly, Gov. Jindal charged us with assembling a team to work with CenturyLink executives on a plan to enhance the combined company's long-term competitiveness in Louisiana while also increasing its professional employment in our state."
The company will receive performance-based assistance from the Rapid Response Fund of up to $5 million over four years for personnel relocation costs and integration expenses associated with creating the new jobs, as well as up to $600,000 over two years to defray air transportation expenses associated with the merger. The company also is expected to take advantage of the Quality Jobs Program, as well as to continue taking advantage of the Tax Equalization Program.
With funding support from the state of $300,000 per year for the next three years, Louisiana Tech University will establish the Clarke M. Williams Professorship in Telecommunications and will collaborate with CenturyLink to plan and design courses to serve the advanced education needs of the company's workforce. The goal of this effort will be to establish a certificate program that will build upon the prior education and training of the employees and to provide them with the skills needed for success in further professional and technical development. It is anticipated that the certificate program will include both business and technical courses.
Clarke M. Williams, CenturyTel's founder, began managing the family owned Oak Ridge Telephone Company in 1946. Through the decades, he grew the communications company into the former CenturyTel, now CenturyLink. From 1946 until his death in 2002, Williams served as both the inspiration and an example of true leadership for the employees of CenturyLink and the citizens of Louisiana.