The New Orleans City Council on Thursday (March 22) passed an incentive package worth as much as $6.5 million that is part of a larger, $120 million deal to bring the technology firm DXC to New Orleans. In exchange for the incentives, DXC has pledged to hire at least 2,000 people.
The vote was unanimous.
The company’s pledge has been hailed as an economic game-changer for the city that could also generate 1,600 indirect jobs, according to Greater New Orleans Inc. Michael Hecht, the economic development group’s president, told the council that as much as $2 billion in salaries are expected to be paid to DXC workers over 10 years, as well as salaries from indirect jobs.
The first $500,000 of the city’s agreement will be paid after the first 300 workers are hired, and future payments are also structured in a way that requires payouts only after goals are met. DXC is also eligible for additional incentives if it exceeds goals.
Most speakers at the City Council on Thursday spoke in glowing terms about the deal and the economic benefits it would bring. Others council members they don’t think enough has been done to ensure equity in a city where black male unemployment rates regularly top 50 percent.
After one speaker cited a disparity study released last month, Councilman at-large Jason Williams defended the council’s actions during his tenure.
“This is an opportunity to grow our skill set and workforce,” Williams said.
Some of DXC’s incentive package — $25 million — will go toward tech worker training Louisiana colleges and universities, including the University of New Orleans, Delgado Community College and Southern University New Orleans. There is also money earmarked for the state’s Fast Start job training program.
Other speakers urged the council to add language to the agreement they approved Thursday that would require the company to set goals for hiring minority workers. Council members declined to consider such a requirement, but Williams pledged to work with DXC to ensure the company’s commitment to diversity.
Terrell Boynton, director of DXC’s New Orleans Digital Transformation Center, sought to assure skeptical members of the public about the importance of diversity.
“We specifically selected New Orleans not only for the growth possibilities … but the diversity in the city,” Boynton said. “We’re committed to being very transparent … about the diversity of our population.”
DXC also provided a letter to the council that said that the company is “committed to maximizing the participation” of minority- and women-owned businesses at its New Orleans office. The company also said it would submit semi-annual reports outlining its efforts.
“I’m going to vote for it because I know so many of our kids are so well educated and look around and can’t find a job in town,” City Councilman James Gray said.
Correction: This story was updated to note that GNO’s $2 billion salary estimate included indirect jobs.
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