Covering Louisiana

Mar 27, 2013 2:36 PM

Governor Jindal and IBM Announce Creation of 800-Job Technology Center in Downtown Baton Rouge

Today, Governor Bobby Jindal and IBM Senior Vice President Colleen Arnold announced that IBM will establish an 800-job technology center in downtown Baton Rouge that will provide software development and software maintenance services to clients in the United States.

IBM Services Center: Baton Rouge is the result of an innovative, public/private partnership that will include expanded higher-education programs related to computer science as well as a major new riverfront development that will accelerate the revitalization of downtown Baton Rouge. The center will employ a broad range of college graduates and experienced professionals with backgrounds in computer science and other quantitative-intense fields, such as engineering, mathematics, and science.

The rapid and widespread adoption of mobile and social technologies within the last three years has changed the way customers and companies interact with one another - driving fundamental transformations to business processes and applications. The center will provide IBM's clients in the United States with services that address the increasing demand for flexible software services to keep up with Big Data, cloud and mobile requirements that they are facing. IBM Services Center: Baton Rouge will deliver technology services including application development, application management and system integration.

In addition to the 800 jobs that will be created at the center over the next four years, LSU estimates the project will result in approximately 542 new indirect jobs, for a total of approximately 1,342 new, permanent jobs in the Capital Region.

Governor Jindal said, "Today's announcement is a game changer that will have a generational impact on Baton Rouge and our entire state. This project will continue to position Louisiana as a leader in the global technology sector as we are bringing in one of the largest, most successful, most innovative companies to create a first-of-its-kind software development center in Louisiana."

For the event, Governor Jindal and Arnold were joined by Baton Rouge Mayor/President Kip Holden, Baton Rouge Area Foundation President and CEO John Davies, and Louisiana State University (LSU) College of Engineering Dean Richard Koubek.

The State will provide $14 million in funding over 10 years for expanded higher-education programs designed primarily to increase the number of annual computer science graduates. At least 65 percent of these funds will be provided for expansion of the Computer Science Division of the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at LSU. LSU plans to double its computer science faculty and triple the number of computer science graduates in five years, which will place the LSU Computer Science program in the top 10-15 nationally for the number of B.S. degrees in computer science awarded annually. To fast track program growth, LSU's College of Engineering will launch the "Geaux Digital Louisiana" consortium. This unique initiative represents a statewide partnership with high schools, community and technical colleges, and other universities, to promote interest in computer science related career fields and enhance student recruitment.

Additionally, IBM will work closely with local professors at LSU to create coursework focused on technology, math and software development, and equip students to meet the growing demand for business services including advanced analytics, process innovation and application development.

A central element of the public/private partnership involved in securing the IBM center is the construction of a mixed-use, riverfront complex that will be developed by Commercial Properties Realty Trust (CPRT), a real estate investment trust that manages and develops property holdings of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation (BRAF). Inspired by New Urbanism design principles, the complex will include an office building that will house the new IBM Services Center, as well as a separate, 11-story residential building with 95 river-view apartments and nine separate town homes.

The riverfront complex is being built on the old Advocate newspaper site bordered by Main, North, Lafayette Street and River Road. Total investment for the combined development is estimated to be $55 million. The approximately $30.5-million office building will be funded by the State of Louisiana ($14.8 million) and the City of Baton Rouge/Parish of East Baton Rouge ($3.0 million), as well as $12.7 million in Community Development Block Grant funds. The BRAF-affiliated Wilbur Marvin Foundation (WMF) will own the office building. CPRT will secure private financing for the residential building, which will also be an asset of the WMF. The office building is scheduled for completion by spring 2015 with the residential complex following in the summer. During construction of the new riverfront complex, IBM will be temporarily lease space at the Essen Centre office complex in Baton Rouge. CPRT estimates that the new complex will result in the creation of approximately 600 construction jobs.

Additional details about IBM's Baton Rouge project and its future hiring plans for the IBM Services Center: Baton Rouge may be found at www.ibmlouisiana.com/jobs. CPRT will select building contractors for the construction project through an open-bidding process.

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