- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 3, 2019

MONROE, La. (AP) - CenturyLink will keep its headquarters in Louisiana through 2025 as the telecommunications company and state officials have made a new deal, news outlets reported.

CenturyLink CEO Jeff Storey and Gov. John Bel Edwards finalized the agreement Tuesday for Louisiana’s largest public company remain in Monroe. The two men were surrounded by lawmakers, local officials and CenturyLink board members when they announced the deal at the company’s headquarters.

CenturyLink is pleased to reaffirm our commitment to Louisiana,” Storey said.

Edwards and other state officials had been seeking to keep the higher ranked of the state’s two Fortune 500 companies beyond 2020, when its contract to stay in the northeastern Louisiana city would expire.

Matthew Block, the Edwards administration’s general counsel, said the deal offers CenturyLink $17.5 million in tax incentives and removes penalties if it does not meet payroll targets. The company has an annual payroll of about $200 million in-state, Block said. The incentives are limited to $2.5 million a year. The agreement terminates if the payroll is less than $57.5 million.

CenturyLink has more than 2,000 employees across several Louisiana locations, company spokesman Frank Tutalo said.

“We have a lot of high-paying jobs at headquarters,” Tutalo said. “It’s certainly not CenturyLink’s intent to stock the payroll with people making $10 an hour.”

The deal also provides $2 million to Louisiana Tech University to help sustain a pipeline of potential employees for CenturyLink. The University of Louisiana at Monroe and Grambling State University are getting education grants too.

The previous deal was struck in 2011 by then-Gov. Bobby Jindal. The new one represents the third time in the past decade that Louisiana has offered tax incentives in exchange for keeping CenturyLink based in Monroe.

It is unclear if the company would have met its payroll promises for 2018 if Edwards‘ administration had not reached the deal, superseding the old one.

Company officials have not commented on whether a possible relocation had been considered.

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