Officials Break Ground on Downtown Baton Rouge Technology Center
September 26, 2013

Officials Break Ground on Downtown Baton Rouge Technology Center

BATON ROUGE, LA — IBM Gov. Bobby Jindal and IBM Senior Vice President Colleen Arnold joined other leaders to break ground on the $55 million urban development in downtown Baton Rouge that will be home to the new IBM Services Center: Baton Rouge upon its completion in mid-2015. The project will create 800 new direct jobs, and LED estimates the project will result in an additional 542 new indirect jobs, for a total of more than 1,300 new permanent jobs in the Capital Region of Louisiana.

The IBM technology center has already been operating at its temporary space in an Essen Lane office in Baton Rouge and employs more than 100 people. The company's Baton Rouge operation develops software applications and other business solutions for domestic customers, and IBM represents the single, largest software development project attracted to Louisiana in what is becoming a rapidly expanding sector for the state. Digital media and software development investments by GE Capital, EA, Gameloft and others have been accompanied by major corporate headquarters expansions by CenturyLink and Schumacher Group in the software technology sector.

Gov. Jindal said, "Today represents a landmark event in the history of Louisiana, Baton Rouge and the Capital Region. This historic new technology center operated by IBM will pioneer new innovation and software development right here in Baton Rouge. The IBM Services Center will create quality technology career opportunities, allowing us to retain our best and brightest students here at home while also further growing our economy. IBM joins a long list of technology companies that have expanded or established offices in Louisiana since 2008, all of which are collectively on track to create more than 3,200 new direct jobs and thousands more indirect jobs in Louisiana. These wins are proof that Louisiana's growing economy is quickly becoming a beacon for the digital media and software industries."

The IBM Services Center: Baton Rouge project includes innovative, public-private partnerships to expand higher-education programs related to computer science and to construct 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.

"Today represents an important step in demonstrating the power of public-private partnerships to build the next generation workforce and drive economic growth," said Colleen Arnold, Senior Vice President, IBM Global Business Services. "As IBM continues to grow in Baton Rouge, we will continue to meet our client's evolving needs around Big Data, mobile, social business and cloud."

The Baton Rouge center will provide IBM clients in the United States with solutions 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 that include application development, application management and system integration.

"This is a great day for the City of Baton Rouge," said Mayor-President Melvin "Kip" Holden of Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish. "We are thrilled to see IBM - and the regional partners working with them to make the services center a reality - take another step forward. This groundbreaking event is a reminder of the great things happening in our city and we thank IBM for being part of this push to make our city even better."

Also joining Gov. Jindal for the groundbreaking event were Mayor-President Kip Holden, LSU Provost Stuart Bell, LED Secretary Stephen Moret, LSU College of Engineering Dean Richard Koubek, Baton Rouge Area Foundation CEO John Davies and Baton Rouge Area Chamber President and CEO Adam Knapp.

For the IBM project, the State of Louisiana will provide $14 million over 10 years to expand higher-education programs designed primarily to increase the number of annual computer science graduates. At least 65 percent of those funds will be provided for expansion of the Computer Science Division of the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at LSU.

As a result, 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 among the top 10 to 15 programs nationally for the number of bachelor's degrees in computer science awarded annually. To fast-track growth, LSU's College of Engineering will launch the "Geaux Digital Louisiana" consortium. A statewide partnership, Geaux Digital Louisiana will engage high schools, community and technical colleges, and other universities to promote interest in computer science-related career fields and to enhance student recruitment.

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

"LSU is excited to work with Louisiana Economic Development and IBM on a partnership that is bringing new educational and job opportunities to our state," said LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander. "LSU is committed to having a top computer science program, and welcomes students to take advantage of the opportunities offered through the Geaux Digital partnership and the LSU College of Engineering."

Another public-private partnership secured construction of the IBM center's permanent site. Commercial Properties Realty Trust (CPRT), a real estate investment trust, will build the $55 million urban development. CPRT manages and develops property holdings of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, and the BRAF-affiliated Wilbur Marvin Foundation will own the IBM office building and an adjacent 11-floor residential building with 95 river-view apartments and nine town homes.

The approximately $30.5 million office building will be constructed with public funds, whereas CPRT, which estimates 600 construction jobs will be created by the overall project, will secure private financing for the residential building that will be completed in 2016. Bounded by Lafayette Street on the east, River Road on the west, Main Street on the south and North Street on the north, the development site is at the former location of The Advocate newspaper.

"We thank the state, city and the Manship family for partnering with us to bring IBM to Baton Rouge," said President and CEO John Davies of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation. "With this project, Baton Rouge begins a return to its riverfront, and downtown gets nearly 100 places for people to live - the final element of a revival plan that began 15 years ago."

LED 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.

"BRAC applauds IBM for the advances they have already made to date to establish their Baton Rouge services center," said President and CEO Adam Knapp of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber. "Having over one hundred jobs already in place shows how serious they are about growth, and is a positive early sign about the quality of our software talent. Today's groundbreaking is an important moment in the history of the region's economy."