Working at Apple and living in the Bay Area, Jason Marcell was living a Millennial’s dream. There was the excitement of being part of one of the world’s most significant tech companies, not to mention earning a generous salary and living in a place known for its recreational and leisure activities. But when Jason and his wife, Shauna, decided it was time to buy a house and put down roots, the Bay Area’s crippling real estate prices prompted them to look elsewhere.
The city that stood out was Jason’s hometown, greater New Orleans, an affordable, vibrant metropolitan area that has seen significant expansion in its tech sector.
Over the last decade, a handful of global tech companies, including GE Digital and DXC, have expanded into New Orleans, while homegrown companies like Lucid, TurboSquid and LookFar, as well as dozens of other small to medium tech ventures have set up shop in the Crescent City. The tech expansion is the result of several years of work on the part of the state and economic development community. Louisiana offers the most comprehensive tax incentives in the country to support digital media and software development, and it has made significant strategic investments in higher education so that degree and certificate programs are aligned with tech sector needs. Those changes, along with Louisiana’s reasonable cost of living, favorable business climate and well-known culture have made it a natural draw for tech entrepreneurs and young talent.
Jason got a job with the global market research firm, Lucid, which was founded as Federated Sample in 2010 by New Orleans transplant Patrick Comer. Through an innovative digital platform that centralizes worldwide survey data, Lucid is transforming the way companies glean consumer opinion from online surveys. It has grown to include locations in London, New Delhi, New York and Sydney. Meanwhile, Shauna, an attorney, also found work in New Orleans in her field. The couple was finally able to realize their dream of homeownership, buying a five-bedroom house in Kenner near family and friends.
“In the Bay Area, you can expect to pay an unbelievable amount for very little square footage, and there’s always the risk of being outbid,” says Jason. “We wanted to move to an area where we could buy a home with comfortable space and be closer to family.”
Jason says working at a ground-up, fast-growing company like Lucid means he can make more of an impact.
“Apple was a dream job, but I was one of tens of thousands of people just like me,” he says. “It’s hard to distinguish yourself in a company like that.”
As a software engineering manager at Lucid, Jason has a chance to not only work on innovative projects, but also to recruit new talent.
“Being in a smaller, but growing tech community, it’s been interesting to talk to people who also want to be part of it,” he says. “There’s a lot of talent and a lot of people who sincerely want to be here in New Orleans.”
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