When Réal Bergevin, the founder of Canada-based NuComm, said the company had chosen Lafayette for its new call center, he singled out three projects that made the city stand out: LUS' fiber-to-the-home plan, the LITE center and LONI.
While some may not be entirely sure of what they do, this high-tech trinity has become a cornerstone of the city's economic strategy...
Huval said the city-owned utility always is at the table talking to prospective business because electricity cost is a main concern for companies. But the talk usually turns to the fiber plan.
"Every time we've met with a prospect to describe that to them, their eyes light up,"...
Mike Spears, CEO of Firefly Digital, said local companies benefit, too. His Web design and software development company is positioning itself to offer services to companies who use the LITE center.
"The benefits cascade across the entire market," he said.
During the fight for the fiber network economic development was one of the benefits promoted by the fiberistas. This single big event realizes that hope even before the network is built. It might seem logical on the surface to assign 1/3 of the benefit of this deal to the FTTH network. That's conservative since there's no reason to think a company like NuComm will find LITE's graphical supercomputer useful or that it will do the sort of research that will gain it access to LONI's superfast but basically academic network. So the main immediate benefit to the company (besides the food, music, culture, and local attitude) is that it will have access to the local area network of at least 100 megs. Mike's written usefully about that benefit, as I pointed out yesterday, and the bottom line is that NuComm will get a huge pipe to their center at relatively low cost by working with LUS (you can bet that a deal has already been cut there) and their employees will have a 100 megs of internal-to-the-system-bandwidth with which to connect back to their office network. Understand that most local networks operate at 100 megs internally so that means that homeworkers will have the same access to databases and VOIP functions that their colleagues at Northgate mall will have. As NuComm gets their workforce trained and start to expand they would be crazy not to buy computers and a nice connection for homeworkers. That would allow them to avoid the substantial additional costs of opening and running new physical centers. (Setting up this one is due to cost 3.5 million. The real financial benefit of Lafayette's advanced technology is FTTH. And that's the reason NuComm brought its jobs here.
So assigning only 1/3 of the benefit of NuComm's investment to the FTTH project is conservative in the extreme. Even at that discounted rate 1/2 of 115 million that is 57.5 million in benefits to the local economy each year. Setting up the system is to cost 125 million. If you do the math you'll see that that 125 million will be returned to the region in just a bit over 2 years 1 month as a consequence of Lafayette approving the fiber initiative. That's not a bad ROI on Lafayette's investment for Acadiana.
That's not the last of it; already an article has appeared that speculates that NuComm's entry will further dry up an already tight labor market and put upward pressure on wages at the low end of the market.
All that can only be good for local citizens, Lafayette, Acadiana, and Louisiana. And we all need the good news.
Addenda: North Lafayette, in particular should be happy...and if it wants to know who in their community did the most to bring this benefit to the heart of the north side let me be the first to congratulate Gobb Williams whose tireless work to pass the initiative has borne fruit for his community--just as he said it would.