Lafayette’s claim to being the “Hub City” of South Central Louisiana is founded on its geographic location as well as what it has to offer the region. Historically, Lafayette has been a retail hub. In the 1950s, the energy industry established headquarters in the Heymann Oil Center, and Lafayette became the administrative base for on-shore and off-shore exploration and production of oil and gas.
The economy, bolstered by the continued presence of the energy sector, has diversified to include information technology, manufacturing, finance, construction, retail trade, transportation, distribution, medical, and health care. From major corporations to small businesses, Lafayette and Acadiana have great representation in all areas of commerce. Acadiana’s top 10 businesses bring in almost $1 billion annually. With the oil and gas service industry still a major player, the “wildcatter” attitude pervades our business culture. Acadiana is known for its entrepreneurial, can do spirit and new businesses are popping up and succeeding every day.
Lafayette Economic Development Authority, created by the Louisiana Legislature, exists to facilitate economic growth in Lafayette Parish. LEDA, guided by its board of 12 commissioners, offers a full-time staff to provide answers, information, and assistance to businesses. LEDA’s mission is to help local companies grow, in addition to market development, and workforce development. The organization also works to recruit companies to the area and assists in the development of new companies in order to diversify the economy within Lafayette Parish. Also on hand to assist businesses in Lafayette is the Louisiana Small Business Development Center located at LITE. The LSBDC provides counseling, seminars and resource information to small businesses.
With a long history rich in technology innovation, from the first GPS satellite to revolutionary advances in drilling and beyond, Lafayette has positioned itself to become a leader in the 21st century world economy.
Lafayette boasts one of the most robust broadband infrastructures in the country, a unique mix of public and private providers, delivering more bandwidth for less money along with greater competition than can be found in major metropolitan areas like D.C. or San Francisco.
Lafayette is set to pioneer the next iteration of the Internet, and its future is brighter than ever.
Community partners, both public and private, have initiated efforts to help Lafayette realize its full potential as the Hub City for fiber-powered innovation.
“Wireless technology was pioneered right here, as a way for oil and gas companies to communicate with their production rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. Lafayette’s entrepreneurs drive our economy, and as we move into a technology-driven economy, our local technology leaders and the Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise stand to continue our growth far into the future. This ability to embrace and apply technology became clearly evident in 2005, when Lafayette voters approved the financing needed to extend fiber connectivity to every home and business within the city.” LEDA, lafayette.org.
LOUISIANA IMMERSIVE TECHNOLOGIES ENTERPRISE
Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise (LITE) is the world’s first and only facility created as a public - private partnership that focuses on advanced data visualizations, serious gaming, and the growth of technology. LITE was created as a quasi-governmental organization, governed by a board of commissioners, to strengthen Louisiana’s economy by developing leading edge technological solutions for the oil and gas, health care, and education industries. LITE also works directly with LEDA’s Opportunity Machine to partner with local small businesses to provide them with next-step options to help grow their business and provide new services, jobs, and products that can boost Lafayette’s business power and market viability.
As an entity created by progressive leaders from our own community, LITE has continued to use its expertise in software engineering, animation, and video-game based training simulations to provide research supported alternative training solutions to ensure that our most valuable commodity, our men and women, can continue to work safely and effectively in their chosen industry. LITE enhances training programs by creating Immersive Virtual Learning Environments that recreate the sights sounds and danger of real-life situations. Not only are they an asset to the business community, but LITE has made an indelible impact in education by offering free workshops, open houses, job shadowing, and internships to students in the local community that focus specifically on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering. Mathematics) career options and its importance to our economic vitality.
LITE made national headlines in 2014 by introducing the virtual reality training world to Frank’s International, an industry leader and Lafayette based company offering tubular and oil & gas services. In order to improve safety training, LITE developed a software program that creates a virtual environment including situations that could happen on oil rigs.
More information regarding LITE can be obtained at lite3d.com, facebook.com/LafayetteLITE3d, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Opportunity Machine is an entrepreneur acceleration and incubation program designed for start-ups and early stage companies seeking assistance in rapid growth in the greater Lafayette area. TheOM leverages skills-based training, community mentorship and technology resources to provide the necessary support systems for emerging businesses. The mission of this organization is to rapidly accelerate growth and wealth creation via a sustainable entrepreneurial community. For more information, visit opportunitymachine.org.
INNOV8 is an eight-day festival celebrating the innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship that sets our region apart and honors our forward-thinking business community and wildcatter mentality. INNOV8 Lafayette encourages and engages community activity with programs that focused on exploring innovation in a range of topics including: architecture, city planning, music, culinary, healthcare, manufacturing, energy, and steampunk. It packs venues across Lafayette for stimulating events and renowned speakers whose stories inspired the Lafayette community to continue to dream big and create our own “serendipitous collisions.” In 2014, one of the keynote speakers, Steven Berlin Johnson shared his world-renowned insight on where good ideas come from. He encouraged the Lafayette business community to capitalize on our greatest opportunity – to build a network of diverse people to produce innovative regional ideas and use innovation to create a platform for solutions to evolve.
We look forward to what the future holds for INNOV8 Lafayette as it finds new, creative ways to inspire, collaborate, and innovate the Lafayette community and region. For more information, visit innov8lafayette.com or follow on Twitter @INNOV8LA.