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Schumacher Group Expanding

Amanda McElfresh
amcelfresh@theadvertiser.com  

In what is being labeled as a historic announcement in the Acadiana business world, Schumacher Group is expanding its Lafayette headquarters with a $19 million investment that is expected to produce about 600 new direct jobs.

All told, about 1,400 direct and indirect jobs could be created within the next five years as a result of the company's growth.

Local and state officials, led by Gov. Bobby Jindal, gathered at Schumacher's offices on Corporate Boulevard on Thursday to make the official announcement.

Since getting its start in the Opelousas area in 1994, the emergency medicine staffing and management company now serves about 3.5 million patients each year at more than 180 hospitals in 24 states. Schumacher has several regional offices, and Jindal said company officials considered expanding their headquarters in another, larger city, such as Dallas, Houston or Atlanta.

But ultimately, the state's customized incentive package, combined with south Louisiana's cultural appeal, kept the company in Lafayette.

"Our focus has always been on treating patients with dignity and respect. We felt there was a philosophy about how you did that, and we felt there had to be a team around it," Schumacher Group CEO Dr. William "Kip" Schumacher said. "About a year and a half ago, we realized that the future would be about the coordination of care and caring for patients before and after their treatment."

The expansion will signify a shift toward that totality of care, and Schumacher said the estimated 600 direct jobs that are expected to be created is a "very conservative" number. Most of the jobs will fall into the categories of emergency services management and care coordination and will have an average annual salary of $62,500, plus benefits.

The direct new jobs are expected to materialize by 2016, and the expansion is scheduled to be completed by 2014.

The state's incentive package includes a performance-based grant from the Mega-Project Development Fund to reimburse 50 percent of the cost of expanding headquarters facilities, up to a maximum state contribution of $9 million. Other incentives include hiring and training assistance from Louisiana's FastStart program, access to Louisiana's Quality Jobs program and assistance from the state's Digital Media and Software Tax Credit.

"We've always said that the majority of our new jobs will come from companies that are already here," Jindal said. "Today's announcement is one of the reasons why our state and Acadiana continue to climb in business rankings. This is a headquarters expansion with a huge multiplier impact. Those are dollars that are being brought in from other states."

Gregg Gothreaux, president/CEO of the Lafayette Economic Development Authority, said the expansion's economic impact could reach into the billions in the coming years.

"When you combine the average yearly economic impact of $245 million, the number of jobs and the average wage per job, this is the most significant project for Lafayette and Acadiana in more than a decade," Gothreaux said.

Jindal said he hopes the news will encourage companies in all sectors to consider expanding or moving into the state.

"They should take another look at Lafayette and another look at Louisiana," he said. "This will show them that we are business-friendly and job-friendly. I think our sons and daughters will see they can pursue their dreams right here in Louisiana."

http://www.theadvertiser.com/article/20110722/NEWS01/107220342/Schumacher-Group-expanding