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Governor presents $1.2M grant to fund tech career efforts

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards signed a memorandum of understanding that will grant $1.2 million that will be used to upgrade technology. Glenn Lewis/GSU Media Bureau

President Rick Gallot has teamed up with Gov. John Bel Edwards and Louisiana Secretary Don Pierson to fund technology careers for students at Grambling State University.

On Feb. 12, Edwards signed a memorandum of understanding for the cause in the amount of $1.2 million.

“Economic development today is dominated by workforce,” Pierson said. “Workforce is dominated by talent. We have to have that pipeline that produces that talent to compete and win and grow our economy.”

The university will establish a Technology Advisory Council that solidifies industry relationships with employers such as CenturyLink, IBM, General Dynamics IT, Microsoft, DXC Technology and CGI. These associations will fortify degree programs in science and computer information systems, while “informing Grambling State’s new cybersecurity program, Louisiana’s first bachelor degree in cybersecurity.”

The faculty at Grambling State will be participating in apprenticeships with some paramount technology employers in Louisiana.

Students will be set up to profit from apprenticeships, scholarships, internships and have many other opportunities to gain work and learning experience that line up the technology employers need their employees to know to be work ready.

“When we think about our new degree in cybersecurity and the improvements in our facilities, we are earning it,” Gallot said. “When you think about our $173 million economic impact, we are earning it.”

The agreement will be led by LED FastStart, the nation’s top state workforce training program, along with Grambling State University.

LED FastStart’s goal, in partnership with Grambling State and its alliance with other higher education peers in the region such as Northwestern State University, Bossier Parish Community College, Louisiana Delta Community College, Southern University at Shreveport, University of Louisiana at Monroe and Louisiana Tech, is to advance student success across multiple STEM disciplines and software information technology.

The request to improve technology was a combined effort.

“It’s one of those times where we are all pushing in the same direction — and to find out that there are opportunities for us to partner in doing this,” Gallot explained. “Certainly as a member of the University of Louisiana Systems, it fits in line with the strategic initiatives that we have developed as a system.”

Edwards said the State of Louisiana has invested over $200 million in STEM programs producing economic growth in higher education campuses.
In return, the investments have created more than 20,000 new jobs in technology in Louisiana.

“More than ever, we’ll prepare student for the future of Louisiana. That’s the key to opportunity and prosperity… That’s the whole reason for this campus to be here,” Edwards said.

“If we want companies around the countries and around the world to invest their dollars in Louisiana, we have to demonstrate to them that they will have a talented workforce — educated, trained, skilled, motivated people to fill the jobs.”