IBM announced it is opening a new technology center in downtown Baton Rouge, La., that will bring 800 new jobs to the area.
On March 27, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and IBM Senior Vice President Colleen Arnold revealed that IBM will establish the technology center on an old Baton Rouge Advocate newspaper site. The center will provide software development and software maintenance services to clients in the United States.
“This historic partnership will help drive major economic activity and extraordinary professional and student achievement,” Jindal said at an event announcing the new center. “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.”
Students will no longer just compete against those in Texas and Georgia, but also “peers” from around the world “to find jobs in the 21st century workforce,” said Jindal.
“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,” the governor said. “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.”
IBM has been involved in many such public/private partnerships in the United States and abroad, including sustainability efforts in Dubuque, Iowa. The IBM Services Center in Baton Rouge is the result of a 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, IBM officials said. The center will employ a broad range of college graduates and experienced professionals with backgrounds in computer science and other fields, such as engineering, mathematics and science.
IBM said the center will provide IBM’s U.S. clients with services that address the increasing demand for flexible software services to keep up with big data, cloud and mobile requirements they are facing. IBM Services Center: Baton Rouge will deliver technology services including application development, application management and system integration.
Moreover, in addition to the 800 jobs that will be created at the center over the next four years, Louisiana State University (LSU) estimates the project will result in approximately 542 new indirect jobs, for a total of approximately 1,342 new, permanent jobs in the state’s Capital Region.
“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 of application management services at IBM, in a statement. “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.”
For the event, Gov. Jindal and Arnold were joined by Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden, Baton Rouge Area Foundation President and CEO John Davies, and LSU College of Engineering Dean Richard Koubek.
New IBM Technology Center to Bring 800 Jobs to Baton Rouge
The state of Louisiana will provide $14 million in funding over 10 years for expanded higher-education programs designed 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 to 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 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,” Koubek said in a statement.
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 townhomes.
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 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 temporarily lease space at an office complex in Baton Rouge. CPRT estimates that the new complex will result in the creation of approximately 600 construction jobs.
“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,” Mayor Holden said in a statement.
IBM Services Center: Baton Rouge joins IBM’s globally integrated capability network, which delivers deep technical and industry expertise, the company said. It is the latest in a series of job-creating investments IBM has made in high-tech, science and innovation in support of the global competitiveness of U.S. workers. This builds on IBM’s efforts to develop technology skills for primary and secondary school students through its Young Explorers and Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) programs, as well as to train college students for high-tech jobs in local markets.