Tech firm Excella, founded by New Orleans native, starts local hub with promise of 150 jobs – NOLA.com

The New Orleans CBD as seen from above.
The New Orleans CBD as seen from above.
Excella, a 20-year old tech firm founded by New Orleans native Burton White, has started a new hub in the Crescent City with the promise of creating 150 software developer and other high-paid tech jobs over the next five years.
The Arlington, Virginia-based company, which mostly specializes in software consulting for government agencies and non-profit organizations, currently employs about 250 people, mostly in the Washington D.C. area.
White, who attended Isidore Newman School, co-founded the company in 2002 after graduating from the University of Virginia. It has been on Inc. Magazine’s list of the 5,000 fastest growing companies in the country six times in the last two decades, most recently in 2019.
Tuesday’s announcement by Gov. John Bel Edwards, the Louisiana Economic Development agency, as well as local and regional economic agencies, said Excella aims to create 150 direct new jobs with an annual payroll of $21 million over the next five years.
Excella would be entitled to a $2.7 million tax break package under the Digital Interactive Media & Software Development Tax Credit program if it meets its target, state officials said. Under that incentive program, payroll for in-state jobs can generate up to 25% in tax credits for the company.
“This is a great win for Louisiana’s rapidly expanding technology sector,” Edwards wrote in a statement. “Companies like Excella are diversifying the state’s economy while also driving innovation and empowering our workforce with quality, high-paying jobs.”
Dustin Gaspard, who was hired by Excella three months ago as managing consultant, will be in charge of the new hub in New Orleans. A Covington High School and Southeastern Louisiana University graduate, who has spent is entire career working in New Orleans’ budding tech sector, said the company already is ahead of its hiring target and plans to have eight staffers on the payroll by the end of January.
“Our goal is to hire as much as we can in Louisiana and to help grow the technology sector here in a very concentrated way,” said Gaspard.
The New Orleans tech sector has had some recent successes, with the sale of several companies that started in the city about a decade ago for very high valuations. These included Turbo Squid, which manages digital images, Levelset, a construction industry software company, and the market intelligence firm Lucid. However, there have been some setbacks, too, including the sharp scale-back in promised jobs from DXC Technology and a quick reversal in plans for local job growth for Jeff Strain’s new gaming venture, Prytania Media.
Gaspard said he is well aware of the up-and-down nature of the local tech scene, having worked for GE Digital, which closed its New Orleans operation at the start of the pandemic in 2020, as well as Capital One, which moved tech operations out of state after acquiring Hibernia Bank.
“Our goal is continued progressive growth in Louisiana, not a ‘big bang’,” Gaspard said. “For example, if we have a new job needing 50 consultants, I will do everything I can to hire, say, 15 in Louisiana.” He said the near-term goal is to go from a staff of eight at the start of the year to 30 by the end of 2023.
Michael Hecht, president and CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc., noted that it had taken more than a year-and-a-half of talks with Excella to secure the commitment for a new hub. “Trends in remote work notwithstanding, connecting a company with a strong local community remains a winning strategy,” Hecht said in the statement announcing the move.
Excella’s local employees, like its existing employees, will mostly work remotely, but the company will have an office on the third floor of The Shop Workspace, the co-working complex at the Contemporary Arts Center on Camp Street in New Orleans’ Warehouse District.
Gaspard said the firm plans to support the development of local talent by working with programs including NOLAvate, Operation Spark and Black Tech NOLA. He said he does not want the company to be seen as poaching workers from elsewhere, as some of the big firms previously did when they came into town.
“We’re in New Orleans because we love New Orleans and we know there are a lot of people here who’ve been trying very hard to grow the technology sector.” he said. “We’re not here to offer a whole lot of jobs to people who are already working for someone else and get people upset.”
Email Anthony McAuley [email protected].
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