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IBM Announces Creation Of 800-Job Technology Center In Downtown Baton Rouge

Rendering provided by Downtown Development District – a computer rendering shows what downtown Baton Rouge would look like with more trees.

Gov. Bobby Jindal and IBM Senior Vice President Colleen Arnold have 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.

Gov. Jindal said, “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.

“This historic partnership will help drive major economic activity and extraordinary professional and student achievement. 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. No longer are our students just competing with their peers in Texas and Georgia for jobs. Our students are now competing with their peers from all over the world to find jobs in the 21st century workforce. In order to make sure our students compete and win, we must make sure they have the very best training and skills in the world – especially in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This partnership accomplishes that goal. We are investing in our students and workers so America can continue to have the most skilled workforce in the world.”

“This center exemplifies IBM’s longtime commitment to partner with local communities and academic institutions to develop the capabilities our clients need,” said Colleen Arnold, Senior Vice President, Application Management Services, IBM. “Our global capability model is designed to address the broadest spectrum of client requirements, build and deliver advanced skills, while inspiring and sustaining the next-generation workforce that drives innovation.”

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.

“This public-private partnership with Louisiana Economic Development, IBM and LSU is a powerful example of the triangulation between industry, government and academia that elevates the state’s role as a national leader in economic development,” said Koubek. “LSU’s College of Engineering is committed to developing a mutually beneficial partnership with IBM and LED that stimulates economic growth and helps to meet the workforce development needs of the state.”

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.

“We have partnered successfully with the state to build The Shaw Center for the Arts in downtown,” said John G. Davies, Baton Rouge Area Foundation president and CEO. “This latest collaboration will provide space for 800 professional technology jobs, and apartments for hundreds to live in the city center, an important piece of continuing the revival of downtown.”

LED has offered IBM a customized, performance-based incentive package that also includes grants totaling $29.5 million over 12 years, including a $1.5 million contribution from the City of Baton Rouge/Parish of East Baton Rouge, to reimburse costs related to personnel recruitment, relocation, and other workforce-related costs; internal training; and facility operating expenses. The company also will utilize LED FastStart® for recruitment support, as well as Louisiana’s Quality Jobs program.

“The IBM Services Center: Baton Rouge is a game changer for our city, putting us at the forefront nationally of producing a technology-based workforce and new jobs,” said Mayor Holden. “In a very short period of time, this project will bring development to our downtown and riverfront that will have a ripple effect on further private investment. This announcement today sends a strong message to our next generation that Baton Rouge is a great place to study, work and build an exciting future in what is truly becoming America’s next great city.”

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Schwartz joined Group C Media in April 1989 as managing editor of Today's Facility Manager. In September 2012, she transitioned to a new role dedicated to developing online content for Business Facilities and Today's Facility Manager. Schwartz can be reached at [email protected]

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