Dignitaries proclaim “Great day in Bogalusa” Tuesday

Published 9:30 am Thursday, August 1, 2013

When it was announced in June that General Dynamics Information Technology was scheduled to open a call center in the Bogalusa Industrial Park in August, Washington Economic Development Foundation Director Ryan Seal enthusiastically said the company would bring “at least 100 new jobs.”

That number has changed for the positive and by a significant amount.

On Tuesday, flanked by state, parish and local dignitaries, and even a representative of a U.S. senator, Mayor Charles Mizell announced what one after another of those present called the biggest development for the Bogalusa job market in recent history.

“General Dynamics Information Technology has entered into a lease agreement with the city for a call center facility with as many as 600 jobs,” he said. “Over 300 will be call takers, and there will be management and administrative positions as well.”

GDIT Project Manager Brian Mathison, who was on-site, later said that the majority of the jobs would be full-time, with the international company possibly “utilizing a second shift” for others.

“We love it here,” he said. “We try to focus on small communities and to support them as best we can.”

U.S. Sen. David Vitter could not attend due to business in Washington D.C., but his representative, David Doss, read a letter of congratulations from him that commended the “hard work” of bringing the project and its “hundreds of jobs” to Bogalusa.

Longtime state Sen. Ben Nevers said that bringing 600 jobs to Bogalusa is like bringing 3,000 jobs to New Orleans.

“This is the largest economic development announcement of my legislative career, and I’ve been around for quite a while,” he said.

Washington Parish President Richard Ned Thomas said he was “almost giddy” with the news.

“I’ve been parish president for five and a half years, and this is the biggest thing that has ever happened,” he said.

Seal said he has worked on the project for more than a year, and that at times it seemed the project was lost.

“I was relentless because that’s what Mayor Mizell told me to be with this project,” he said. “After a lot of hard work and hard prayers, it has finally worked out.”

Sheriff Randy Seal spoke as the parish tax collector.

“We are glad General Dynamics is here,” he said. “We’re going to spend (the taxes) wisely.

“We need more businesses like General Dynamics to come to Washington Parish. We love it. Washington Parish is a well kept secret with good, hard-working people.”

Many of the dignitaries thanked GDIT.

Mizell vowed to “reward the company for having faith in our community.” Clerk of Court Johnny D. Crain Jr. said it would “not be disappointed.”

The grand announcement was made at the new GDIT facility, which is set to open in the Bogalusa Industrial Park in August. The call center will dispense information on government health care programs.

Mizell said he believes the company will be able to fill its employment needs in Bogalusa.

“We’re working diligently for the support structure necessary to fill those jobs,” he said.

He did not elaborate.

After Mizell, Seal and elected officials at all levels were praised for the long haul team effort in getting the big company to move to town, Director of Community Relations Lauren Ritchie announced a job fair.

GDIT will host the fair at Washington Parish Business and Career Solutions Center, 420 Avenue B, on Monday, Aug. 5 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. and on Tuesday, Aug. 6 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

She said the state would send a mobile unit to handle any “overflow.”

WPBCSC representative Tammy Crain said that applicants should visit generaldynamics. com online and fill out an application before attending the fair.

Anyone interested in getting a job with the new Bogalusa call center can also apply online by visiting www. gdit.com/careers and entering Louisiana as the location on the job search page.