Covering Louisiana

Mar 27, 2013 5:10 PM by AP/PHOTO COURTESY OF MGN ONLINE

IBM putting 800-job tech center in Baton Rouge

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - IBM expects to employ 800 people within four years at a service center to be built in Baton Rouge by spring 2015, Gov. Bobby Jindal and IBM Senior Vice President Colleen Arnold said. The center will develop and maintain software for U.S. clients.

During construction, IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., will lease space at the Essen Centre office complex in Baton Rouge, officials said Wednesday.

The project involves about $74 million in public money over 12 years, including $30.5 million for an office building and $14 million over 10 years to increase the needed number of computer science graduates at Louisiana State University and other colleges and universities in the state.

"This historic partnership will help drive major economic activity and extraordinary professional and student achievement," Jindal said "Indeed, this investment is a big win for LSU, Baton Rouge and our entire state because it means we can make sure our students can find good-paying jobs here at home."

Louisiana Economic Development is offering $29.5 million over 12 years - including $1.5 million from the city and parish of East Baton Rouge - for workforce costs and facility operation, according to a news release from the governor's office.

State, federal and city money will put up the office building, to be developed by the Baton Rouge Area Foundation's Commercial Properties Realty Trust on the site where The Advocate newspaper's offices and printing plant once stood. About $14.8 million is coming from the state, $3 million from the city-parish government and $12.7 million from federal Community Development Block Grant money.

The Wilbur Marvin Foundation, also affiliated with the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, plans to use private money to develop an 11-story residential building with 95 apartments and nine town homes. The Wilbur Marvin Foundation will own that building.

At least 65 percent of the education money, or $9.1 million, will expand Louisiana State University's computer science division.

LSU plans to double its computer science faculty and triple the number of computer science graduates in five years, which would put its computer science program among the top 15 nationally in the annual number of bachelor's degrees, the governor's office said. The program is part of LSU's College of Engineering, which will create a statewide consortium with high schools, community and technical colleges, and other universities, to promote interest in computer science and enhance student recruitment.

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, according to the statement.

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