Why CenturyLink kept its headquarters in Louisiana

BROOMFIELD — Folks in Louisiana were understandably nervous when CenturyLink, based in Monroe, La., acquired Broomfield-based Level 3 Communications for $34 billion in 2017.

After all, Colorado long has been a telecommunications mecca, churning out behemoths such as Dish Network, the old Jones Intercable, Telecommunications Inc. and many more. And CenturyLink itself previously acquired Denver-based Qwest Communications and already had thousands of employees in Colorado. (That number is now 6,000 after the Level 3 deal.)

With former Level 3 CEO Jeff Storey — now CEO of CenturyLink — deciding not to move to Louisiana, and with a Louisiana incentive program expiring in 2020, news organizations in Louisiana raised questions about the company’s future in Monroe:

“Is CenturyLink Getting Ready To Leave Louisiana?,” read an Oct. 11, 2017, headline on The Hayride, which bills itself as a conservative political commentary site.

“Centurylink’s next CEO won’t live in Louisiana,” read an Oct. 10, 2017, headline in the News Star in Monroe.

And the rumor mills kept churning. Late last year, the ever-unreliable TheLayoff.com included a post from “getreal” with the headline, “CenturyLink ‘quietly moving Monroe execs to Broomfield, laying off everyone else.”

No recent word from “getreal” on the subject.

As it turns out, people in Monroe and Louisiana overall needn’t have worried. CenturyLink never had any intention of leaving the Bayou State.

The reasons are many. Yes, Colorado is a center for telecommunications — and technology — companies. The state added 7,175 jobs in the tech sector during 2018, according to Cyberstates 2019, researched by CompTIA, an association for the tech industry. Net tech employment has increased by 55,000 jobs since 2010, the report states. Technology’s direct economic impact in Colorado? A cool $7.55 billion, with 293,000 workers.

That compares with an economic impact of $8 billion, with 83,599 tech jobs, in Louisiana.

But none of that means a thing.

Just as CenturyLink didn’t move after its acquisition of Qwest in 2011, it didn’t move after the Level 3 deal, either.

In a joint announcement April 2 from Storey and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, the Fortune 200 company — with annual revenue of $23 billion — said that it would remain headquartered in Monroe through 2025.

So why is it staying? Certainly, a $17.5 million incentive package didn’t hurt. But that’s probably just a superficial reason.

CenturyLink and the governor announced that the deal continues a higher-education investment in Louisiana Tech University and other institutions of higher ed “to provide technology curricula for CenturyLink employees and other students.

“CenturyLink and Louisiana Tech form two key points of presence on Louisiana’s Interstate 20 Cyber Corridor that also includes Barksdale Air Force Base’s Global Strike Command, the 3,000-acre National Cyber Research Park, the Cyber Innovation Center and General Dynamics Information Technology in the Shreveport-Bossier City metro to the west,” the press release stated.

The greatest challenges facing companies throughout the country is finding and retaining a quality workforce. Why would CenturyLink give up a good thing?

Storey himself touted the agreement as key for the company.

“CenturyLink is pleased to reaffirm our commitment to Louisiana,” Storey said. “As we continue to evolve into a leading global technology company, our talented employees in Northeast Louisiana will continue to play important roles in our transformation. A highly trained workforce is key to our continued success.”

And, despite the numbers cited above, Louisiana is no slouch when it comes to telecom employment and companies. The state includes major players such as EA, GE Digital, IBM, General Dynamics Information Technology, CGI, DXC Technology, Accruent and others.

Additionally, moving a corporate headquarters is no easy task. It would cost many millions of dollars, and valuable talent in Louisiana might have been lost as many employees would not have wanted to uproot their families.

Colorado boasts many advantages, but the state’s low unemployment rate — 3.7 percent in February 2019 compared with 4.9 percent in Louisiana — doesn’t help much, either. Any company moving to Broomfield or Denver and needing to hire thousands of workers would have a difficult time.

So, it seems, CenturyLink made the decision that made the most business sense.

Then again, Louisiana’s incentive agreement expires in 2025. And CEO Jeff Storey still lives in Colorado. And …

BROOMFIELD — Folks in Louisiana were understandably nervous when CenturyLink, based in Monroe, La., acquired Broomfield-based Level 3 Communications for $34 billion in 2017.

After all, Colorado long has been a telecommunications mecca, churning out behemoths such as Dish Network, the old Jones Intercable, Telecommunications Inc. and many more. And CenturyLink itself previously acquired Denver-based Qwest Communications and already had thousands of employees in Colorado. (That number is now 6,000 after the Level 3 deal.)

With former Level 3 CEO Jeff Storey — now CEO of CenturyLink — deciding not to move to Louisiana, and with a Louisiana incentive program expiring in 2020, news organizations in Louisiana raised questions about the company’s future in Monroe:

“Is CenturyLink Getting Ready To Leave Louisiana?,” read an Oct. 11, 2017, headline on The Hayride, which bills itself as a conservative political commentary site.

“Centurylink’s next CEO won’t live in Louisiana,” read an Oct. 10, 2017, headline in the News Star in Monroe.

And the rumor mills kept churning. Late last year, the ever-unreliable TheLayoff.com included a post from “getreal” with the headline, “CenturyLink ‘quietly moving Monroe execs to Broomfield, laying off everyone else.”

No recent word from “getreal” on the subject.

As it turns out, people in Monroe and Louisiana overall needn’t have worried. CenturyLink never had any intention of leaving the Bayou State.

The reasons are many. Yes, Colorado is a center for telecommunications — and technology — companies. The state added 7,175 jobs in the tech sector during 2018, according to Cyberstates 2019,…