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Cities and towns across America are challenged to meet the demands of residents and businesses in areas such as workforce development, technology innovation and neighborhood investment.

Building economically strong and vibrant communities is a complex task that requires both civic and corporate leaders to join forces, with each serving as bridge builders for growth and opportunity. Today’s market dynamics increasingly require companies to invest locally to attract and retain top talent.

In states like Alabama, Louisiana, Maine, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin, CGI has seen first-hand how partnering with local and state government and academic institutions can make a real difference in helping to revitalize economies and develop in-demand skillsets. This in turn continually improves the quality of life for our current and prospective employees and positively contributes to our success in communities across the country.

Keys to success
Our community-based public-private partnership model began more than a decade ago in Southwest Virginia’s coal country with the development of our first U.S. onshore delivery center. Generating an estimated economic impact in the region of $68.5 million each year, CGI’s presence in Lebanon, Virginia, has helped transform a community that had experienced 20% job loss over the prior decade.

Below are some key factors in the successful initial investment and ultimate long-term growth of our operations in Lebanon. These can be used as a guide to successful public-private partnerships in other communities.

  • Strong public sector leadership from the Governor, legislative bodies and local government officials to secure corporate investment
  • Joint commitment by the company and local leaders to facilitate partnerships that embrace the mutual benefits of economic growth
  • Public-private collaboration and investment in critical business infrastructure including high-speed internet, utilities, transportation, office space and local amenities that will enable communities to attract and retain companies that employ highly educated and skilled workers
  • Shared commitment to accelerating the demand for the company’s services
  • Prioritizing private sector investment incentives in high-unemployment areas
  • Collaboration with community colleges and universities to provide both initial training programs and ongoing education, matching knowledge and skills development with demand
  • Close relationships with local high schools as incubators for growth in the talent pipeline
  • Opportunities for internships and other programs that increase student engagement in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education
  • Access to a ready, available workforce willing to be trained in new, innovative industry processes

Thinking beyond the present
Successful public-private partnerships require good planning, execution and a willingness of all parties to think beyond the present and work together for long-term viability and growth. Such a partnership builds a more sustainable foundation for the success of the business, as well as other local efforts around workforce development, community investment and economic growth.  

Our success in Lebanon, Virginia, ignited the drive to replicate this model and to create six other U.S. onshore delivery centers across the country, bringing quality jobs and innovation.

I invite you to read more about how public-private collaboration makes a real difference in communities in a recent blog by my colleague Will LaBar about our partnerships in Lafayette, Louisiana.

About this author

Aaron Mathes

Aaron Mathes

Vice President and U.S. Mid-Atlantic Sector Leader, CGI

Based in Richmond, Virginia, Aaron is responsible for CGI’s state and local government and commercial client engagement and service delivery in U. S. Mid-Atlantic states. Aaron has over 20 years of leadership experience in information technology, and partners with clients to develop digital transformation strategies ...