Expansion needs prompt Schumacher Group to look beyond Louisiana
Founded in 1994, Lafayette-based Schumacher Group ranks as the third-largest healthcare company of its kind in the nation. Its focus on improving patient care through emergency medical staffing and management has enabled the company to grow 15 to 20 percent annually. In 2011, company leadership acknowledged that, at this rate, Schumacher Group would reach $1 billion in annual revenue in the next decade. With this growth anticipated to continue, a larger staff and a new headquarters would be needed to better serve their clients.
Schumacher Group experienced much of its success in its Lafayette headquarters, but with the need to expand looming, it began evaluating larger cities in other states. Schumacher Group developed a plan to grow its Lafayette office from 380 to 450 employees and add an additional 500 new jobs at its other offices in Dallas, Atlanta and Houston.
This strategy called for the headquarters and most of the company’s executives to remain in Lafayette, and expand its offices in Texas and Georgia to access deeper workforce pools in those locations.
Company executives contacted regional and state business development leaders to identify areas where the state could support Schumacher’s headquarters expansion in Lafayette. These economic development partners made a case to Schumacher Group leadership that the company could avoid growing their out-of-state offices, respond to the increased demand and expand its operations exclusively in Louisiana.
State and local partners collaborate to keep, support Schumacher
Officials from Lafayette Economic Development Authority (LEDA) and LED were determined to retain this growing company and wanted to prove that Schumacher Group should not only stay in Lafayette, but that it could grow in size and find the appropriate talent, even when compared to the deep workforce pools in competing regions.
With the company facing increasing demand for their services, state officials analyzed Schumacher Group’s complex growth strategy. LED officials crafted a formal proposal to focus Schumacher’s future headquarters and professional development in Louisiana.
To address Schumacher’s need for a qualified, talented pool of applicants to staff their expansion, the state offered the services of LED FastStart® — rated the No. 1 workforce program in the nation — to provide customized job recruitment, hiring and training programs to Schumacher. This comprehensive solution was provided to Schumacher at no cost to the company — a value of $2.4 million in the private sector.
Additionally, to support the expansion of its headquarters, the state provided a $9 million performance-based headquarters grant. The state would pay 50 percent of the cost of Schumacher’s headquarters expansion, including construction of new training facilities. As Schumacher met its hiring and payroll targets, the incentive would leverage an $18 million capital investment that would cover most of the company’s expansion costs.
Schumacher Group also qualified for the state’s Quality Jobs payroll rebate of six percent for up to 10 years. The company could claim either a 6 percent sales tax credit on machinery or equipment purchased during construction or a 1.5 percent tax credit on its capital investment. Additionally, Schumacher Group qualified for the Digital Interactive Media and Software Development Incentive. As a developer of extensive software applications to integrate emergency medical departments with overall hospital operations, the company could claim state tax credits worth up to 35 percent when Louisiana-based employees produce the software.
Home sweet home: Schumacher Group finds solution in Louisiana
Schumacher officials acknowledged that Louisiana offered far more than they initially realized.
The company committed to create 600 new jobs in Lafayette over the following five years and expand its headquarters. It would also retain the existing 380 jobs in Lafayette. Schumacher made use of the services of FastStart, which provided comprehensive, tailor-made training for its local employees. With the support of FastStart, Schumacher was able to recruit professionals from other locations to Lafayette, in addition to attracting some of the best talent in the region.
“The biggest thing that we overcame with being able to grow our headquarters office is the preservation of our culture within the organization,” said Doug Menefee, Schumacher's chief information officer. “We’ve gone from a small business to a mid-sized business — and really to being an enterprise-class business — very quickly. We have a strong focus on maintaining a very strong family (environment) within the organization, not only treating our patients with dignity and respect, but treating our employees with dignity and respect. I think we’ll be able to integrate that focus and take it into our regional office from a larger corporate headquarters presence.”
Company expansion ahead of schedule in Lafayette
The company has exceeded its hiring goals. With plans to employ about 1,000 people in Lafayette by 2016, the company is ahead of schedule, employing more than 675 people at the end of 2012.
Schumacher has renovated its existing headquarters in Lafayette and has hired a national real estate group to assist with plans for further expansion. The company is also pursuing plans for a new emergency medicine training center, keeping its corporate growth cohesive. Additionally, with the help of LED FastStart, Schumacher developed plans for a joint training center with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette to increase the number of potential employees.