Louisiana's Software Industry Among Country's Fastest Growing, Report Says

Louisiana is competing for talent in a variety of jobs, but employs almost 12,000 people in the software industry.

by Ted Griggs, The Advocate / September 26, 2017
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(TNS) -- Louisiana's rapidly growing software industry employed 11,694 people in 2016 and had a $1.5 billion impact on the state's economy, according to a new report by Software.org.

In Louisiana, employment in the industry has grown nearly 22 percent since 2014, according to "The Growing Trillion-Dollar Impact of Software." The report tracks software's impact on the U.S. economy and describes the industry as "a powerful spark" nationally.

"Software industry employment is growing fastest in some unexpected places. Kansas, Mississippi, Indiana, Idaho and Louisiana led the way in 2016, with direct software employment in Kansas and Indiana growing more than 30 percent," the report says.

Louisiana's software industry generated 20,533 indirect jobs, or jobs created to support the industry, in 2016, the report says. In addition, software companies invested $22 million in research and development, 6.2 percent of Louisiana's total R&D spending.

In a blurb for its quarterly online magazine, Louisiana Economic Development describes Louisiana as an emerging software hub. One reason? Louisiana's Digital Interactive Media and Software Development tax credit is "the strongest of its kind in the nation," offering digital media and software development companies a competitive edge.

The program provides a 25 percent refundable tax credit on qualified payroll for in-state labor and 18 percent for qualified production expenditures.

The state's successful efforts include recruiting EA's North American Test Center to LSU in 2008; French firm Gameloft's digital game studio in New Orleans, which drew successful online startups, such as TurboSquid and Lucid; Chicago area-based High Voltage Software's game development studio in New Orleans; and The Rogue Initiative, a California-based studio whose Baton Rouge operations will employ 20 people for projects that blend traditional storytelling with new media applications, such as virtual reality and interactive reality.

In Lafayette, independent IT and business process services firm CGI has a tech center with nearly 400 employees; food delivery app service Waitr has more than 100 employees — in addition to the 100 or so in Lake Charles — and has been expanding to other southern states and northern California.

LED Secretary Don Pierson said the state's IT sector is rapidly growing and dispersed throughout the state.

Louisiana, like other states, is competing for talent in a variety of jobs, from animators to people writing code to cybersecurity systems analysts, Pierson said. LED expects the software industry's growth to remain strong, and he's optimistic the state will continue to capture a significant share of that growth.

©2017 The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.