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Technology center in University's Research Park to bring 400 jobs

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A new, $13.1 million, state-funded technology center will anchor the University’s 143-acre Research Park, and funnel at least 400 jobs into the local economy.

The 50,000-square-foot technology center will be built thanks to a public/private agreement between UL Lafayette, the state and CGI, a Montreal-based IT services and business company that employs 68,000 people in 40 countries.

UL Lafayette, or the University’s nonprofit support organization Ragin’ Cajun Facilities, will own the center. The state’s Louisiana Economic Development will pay for it. CGI will lease space in the building.

As part of the collaboration, UL Lafayette will lead a 10-year, $4.5 million higher education initiative that will enable it to build on its already strong computer science and engineering programs, said Dr. Joseph Savoie, UL Lafayette president.

“Through our strategic partnership with CGI, we will provide students with the knowledge and specific computer science skills needed by the software industry,” Savoie said. “This marriage of higher education and business will lead to innovation that is an essential element of today’s knowledge economy. By providing professionals needed by high-tech companies, UL Lafayette will play a key role in developing Louisiana’s economy.”

Construction on the new technology center will begin later this year, said Gov. Bobby Jindal on Monday at the Lafayette Economic Development Authority offices, where the agreement was announced.

The technology center is expected to be completed by the end of 2015, Jindal added.  Until then, CGI will operate from a temporary location. Hiring will begin later this year.

The center is projected to have a $22 million payroll once the 400 positions are filled. That process is expected to take about four years.

“CGI looked for two years at different sites across the country and they considered many different locations,” Jindal said. “Their selection proves we can compete with other states and other countries for good-paying jobs.”

“Thank you for creating the business environment here to help us create these jobs,” said James Peake, president of CGI Federal, the company’s United States headquarters in Fairfax, Va., on Monday.

“Lafayette is just the kind of community where this kind of public/private partnership will thrive. It has an excellent quality of life, proximity to both public and private clients, strong partnerships with institutions of higher education and it’s business friendly,” Peake said.

Local incentives for the project include a $1.1 million grant from the Lafayette Economic Development Authority.

UL Lafayette will provide a 10-year land lease that will include a $600,000 in-kind contribution by the University for the first five years of the project. That will be supplemented by a $400,000 performance-based state grant to the company for the next five years.

Photo info: Gov. Bobby Jindal (left) and CGI's James Peake (front right) on Monday at the Lafayette Economic Development Authority, where a partnership that will result a $13.1 million, state-funded technology center at the University's Research Park was announced.