Specht: Can Minden be a technology hub?

Specht

Can Minden be a technology hub? 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 across the river from Shreveport in Bossier City proper, 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 and reinforced the message that the Shreveport-Bossier community provides access to the technology that capable workforce businesses need.”

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.”

Minden is 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)

“An after-school drop-off coding program has opened its second DFW location with plans to add another eight as soon as the next two years,” the article said.

“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. It is a cost savings to not transport the material and service needs to that major 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. “Founded in 2007 in Bossier City, 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,” the Innovation & Tech Today article said.

“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 the more advanced cybersecurity career paths.”

That curriculum is now in use in all 50 states.

So, what can we do in 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 public schools (and Glenbrook). Perhaps we can incorporate Northwest Louisiana Technical College in this.

We are staring at a bona fide opportunity for our community. Real jobs for our kids, should they choose to follow the path. Close jobs, so they don’t have to seek “better opportunities” elsewhere. And, true economic growth as tech-driven parents decide to move to an area where their kids can “learn the trade.”
Now that we know, what will we do about it?

David Specht is president of Specht Newspapers, Inc. He may be reached via email at dspecht@press-herald.com.

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