Green: Bossier Innovates

Pictured left to right: LED Secretary Don Pierson, AEP CEO Nick Akins, Louisiana Tech President Dr. Les Guice, Bossier City Mayor Lo Walker, UL System President Dr. Jim Henderson.

If you’ve been around to hear Bossier Chamber of Commerce President Lisa Johnson speak at any ribbon cutting, press conference, or grand opening event then you’ve heard her say, “Bossier innovates” at least once. After news officially broke last month that Louisiana Tech has partnered with the Cyber Innovation Center to open an Academic Success Center at Bossier Parish Community College’s new STEM Building, I think that statement has never been truer.

This new facility will enable LA Tech to provide cyber education and research, develop a workforce and act as a recruitment center for their Ruston campus. The Academic Success Center is a one-stop shop for information about career exploration, test preparation, financial aid, and articulation agreements with BPCC.

So not only does it further Tech’s relationship with the CIC and BPCC, but it doubles down on their commitment to building a cyber/IT workforce for the National Cyber Research Park. In laymen’s terms, there will be students continuing their cyber degree just a few yards from where it began at BPCC, who, upon completion, could walk across the street to get a job at CSRA.

It all came home when AEP donated $1 million to kickstart the Center just a week after the announcement. This is real, it is happening and it will be ready for the fall academic quarter.

I was talking with a business leader in our community the day of the announcement and that person told me, “In 10 years, we’re going to look back at how our community changed and ask, ‘Where did it all begin?’ And I think we’re going to point to today, July 19, 2017, as that day.” It just confirmed my thoughts about how big of a deal this thing is.

If you ask me, at some point in the next few years we will see Louisiana Tech teaching classes in Bossier Parish. And I firmly believe we’ll see some sort of brick and mortar campus. Probably right alongside BPCC in the National Cyber Research Park. There’s just too much synergy there for it not to happen.

When you look at how far we’ve come in the past 10 years, don’t tell me it can’t be done. At the end of July, the CIC celebrated it’s 10-year anniversary. From an idea uttered at a meeting, to the planned HQ of Air Force Cyber Command, to serving as the temporary home for 8th Air Force, to its ultimate function as the builder of a technology industry from the ground up — the CIC has changed the landscape of Bossier Parish. What used to be an empty field has three state of the art facilities and 800 jobs, with more to come.

That’s progress. Bossier leadership had a vision, stuck to it through the lean times of the economic crash in 08, ignored the naysayers, and now with this latest news, it’s proof that vision is bearing fruit they couldn’t have dreamed of. Who knows what tomorrow holds. But if it’s anything like the last 10, we’re in for a wild ride.

Bossier really does innovate.

Sean Green is publisher and editor of BIZ. Magazine