CenturyLink gets deal with Louisiana

AP News
Posted: Nov 19, 2009 9:49 AM

Telecommunications provider CenturyLink has agreed to add 350 jobs in Louisiana while maintaining its headquarters in the state for at least the next decade.

Gov. Bobby Jindal revealed the deal after meeting with Monroe-based CenturyLink's board of directors on Wednesday.

CenturyLink was formed in July from the acquisition of Overland Park-based Embarq Corp. by CenturyTel Inc., which paid $5.8 billion in stock and took on $5.8 billion of Embarq debt to become the nation's fourth-largest traditional telephone company. CenturyLink is one of three Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Louisiana.

"CenturyLink has been one of our state's top private-sector employers for many years, which is why we worked aggressively after the announcement of the merger to develop a comprehensive support plan to ensure that CenturyLink will stay and grow right here for many years to come," Jindal said.

Under a state incentive agreement, CenturyLink will increase its Louisiana work force by adding at least 100 jobs in 2010, an additional 150 in 2011, and 50 in each of 2012 and 2013. The jobs will be maintained through at least 2019 at an average salary of at least $45,000 a year plus benefits.

The company will receive state performance-based grants of up to $5 million over four years for personnel relocation costs and up to $600,000 over two years to defray air transportation expenses resulting from the merger. Failure to meet the job goals or to keep CenturyLink's headquarters in Louisiana through at least 2019 would require refunds of state money.

The state economic development agency estimates the expansion will result in $20.3 million in new state tax revenue and $13.5 million in additional local tax revenue.

"Our growth opportunities across the nation and here in Louisiana represent an exciting future for our company and our employees," said CenturyLink CEO Glen Post. "The state has stepped up to make Louisiana more business friendly."

Also, the state will provide $900,000 over the next three years to establish a professor's position _ named in honor of CenturyLink founder Clarke M. Williams _ at Louisiana Tech University. The university and the company will plan and design advanced education programs in business and technical skills for use by CenturyLink employees.

CenturyLink has about 20,000 employees in 33 states.