Next-generation demand drives search for new technology site
In April 2018, General Dynamics IT completed its acquisition of IT services giant CSRA, which formed in November 2015 with the merger of SRA International and the federal IT services unit of CSC. General Dynamic’s acquisition of CSRA was a natural fit, as the company had developed into a leader in the defense contractor sector following its formation in 2015. CSRA was formed when SRA International merged with the federal IT services unit of CSC, which had supported NASA projects at the dawn of the space race and continued to protect organizations from virtual threats. CSC was a leader in next-generation information technology services and solutions for a global clientele.
Louisiana Economic Development first began working with CSC in 2013. At the time, CSC employed 80,000 professionals serving corporate and government customers in more than 70 countries. Headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia, CSC’s successes included modernizing one of the world’s largest supply chains and streamlining logistics for a major branch of the U.S. Armed Forces; designing and implementing a precision dispatching system for a major railway; managing the world’s largest insurance application services program; reducing costs and improving performance of IT systems for a global chemical and energy client; and implementing a new supply chain management system for one of the world’s largest manufacturers.
The company’s approach to driving change in the IT industry is to combine cutting-edge technologies to better engage customers and build higher-performing teams. CSC technology centers lower costs, optimize performance and develop innovative solutions that support the company’s complete IT and customer portfolio.
With this approach, CSC officials began exploring new facility options for a next generation technology center. In 2013, CSC hired a consulting firm to complete a national site selection search of 134 potential locations around the country for a new technology center.
CSC considers Bossier City as availability opens at Research Park
In 2008, well before CSC began its search for the new site, Louisiana committed $57 million, matched by $50 million from local governments, to establish the Cyber Innovation Center, or CIC, in Bossier City, and to support the development of a technology research park there. The CIC operated the new National Cyber Research Park and collaborated with strategic missions at nearby Barksdale Air Force Base. Accordingly, the CIC had provided temporary administrative space for the 8th Air Force until April 2013. When the 8th Air Force rejoined expanded facilities of the Global Strike Command, headquartered at Barksdale, 40,000 square feet became available for a potential new CIC tenant at the National Cyber Research Park.
The National Cyber Research Park not only had ample space for a new investment, but was eagerly seeking an anchor tenant.
As CSC continued its site evaluation process, company executives met with LED in May 2013. At the time, CSC planned a small expansion – a facility with an employment headcount of fewer than 300 employees. But Louisiana and CIC leaders developed an offer to maximize the company’s new investment.
If the company chose to invest in Bossier City and increase its facility headcount to 800 employees, the state would build a new facility for the exclusive use of CSC. Bossier City and Bossier Parish governments would support the larger facility with data-center infrastructure. CSC’s continuous growth and the company’s strategy to lower costs, optimize performance and provide innovative solutions for its customers made the offer compelling. Bossier City quickly climbed the ladder of potential CSC locations.
Talent pipeline ensures Bossier City prepared for CSC
In CSC’s search, proximity to a skilled, next-generation IT workforce ranked as a top priority. A strategy to expand technology talent would build Bossier City’s case.
CSC made plans to relocate some jobs from beyond Louisiana to its new facility in addition to developing and drawing talent from Northwest Louisiana’s deep pool of skilled workers. With the National Cyber Research Park’s close proximity to Barksdale Air Force Base, recently retired service men and women provide a skilled workforce from which to hire cyber engineering professionals. This was an important consideration for CSC, as the company is dedicated to hiring veterans, wounded warriors and military spouses.
Additionally, Louisiana demonstrated proven public-private partnerships that developed talent for other projects, and could apply the same techniques to support CSC. Louisiana Tech University in neighboring Ruston provides a potential source of new talent. Bossier Parish Community College, located next to the National Cyber Research Park, also provides opportunities for staffing.
With Louisiana’s commitment to supporting CSC by funding a 96,000-square-foot, next-generation technology center and providing multiple sources of new talent, Bossier City emerged as an ideal location for CSC.
CSC selects Bossier City for its new 800-job technology center
In February 2014, CSC executive, Dave Zolet, joined state and local officials to announce CSC’s selection of Louisiana for the company’s new technology center. Zolet announced the company will fill 800 jobs during its first four years in Louisiana, and serve as an anchor tenant of the 3,000-acre National Cyber Research Park in Bossier City.
To further support a pipeline of talent for CSC, the state committed $14 million over 10 years for expanded higher education programs designed primarily to increase the number of annual graduates in computer science and related fields. Of the $14 million, at least 65 percent will be provided to Louisiana Tech University to quadruple the total number of undergraduate degrees awarded annually in computer science, computer information systems and cyber engineering over the next five to six years, not including advanced degrees. Such growth is anticipated to place Louisiana Tech among the Top 20 schools for number of bachelor’s degrees in computer science awarded annually by an engineering school, with a No. 1 national ranking anticipated for cyber engineering.
“As we transform our company into a next-generation IT services provider, we are committed to developing a next-generation workforce skilled in cloud computing, cybersecurity and big data technologies,” said Dave Zolet, executive vice president and general manager for CSC. “The special public-private partnership with the State of Louisiana, Louisiana Tech and Bossier Parish Community College provides a strong platform for building a recruiting pool for our company and anchoring the development of a new technology corridor.”
CSC was also provided with the services of LED FastStart®, ranked as the No. 1 state workforce training program in the U.S. The company is expected to utilize the state’s Digital Interactive Media and Software Development Incentive, as well as the Quality Jobs Program for positions that do not qualify for the software incentive.
Technology Center just the beginning as CSRA announces expanded footprint in Louisiana
Soon after the February announcement, CSC occupied 40,000 square feet of space within the Cyber Innovation Center as a temporary location, and in September 2014, state and company officials gathered to break ground on the next-generation technology center at the National Cyber Research Park campus. As development of the facility was underway, it was determined that the operations in Shreveport would carry the banner of CSRA, as the new company would include the Louisiana operations formerly managed by CSC.
In 2016, as the new Technology Center was nearing completion, CSRA announced that it would establish the CSRA Customer Engagement Center in Bossier City to support the company’s next-generation IT solutions and professional services. In total, the Customer Engagement Center will facilitate 300 jobs, in addition to the 800 announced jobs affiliated with the Integrated Technology Center.
State, local and CSRA officials formally dedicated the CSRA Integrated Technology Center in November 2016. At the time of the dedication, CSRA had already employed 400 professionals, with plans to ramp up to full employment of 800 employees by mid-2018. CSRA remained on track to create 1,100 new direct jobs, employing Louisiana’s highly skilled software development workforce.
“I’m excited to celebrate the grand opening of our new facility in Bossier City,” then-CSRA CEO Larry Prior said. “This marks a true milestone for our company, as the ITC was built as a next-generation IT center of excellence to further enable us to deliver a variety of cost-effective, leading-edge offerings and capabilities to solve our customers’ most challenging and complex issues. This facility is a key differentiator for CSRA and helps position us as forward-thinkers and trendsetters in the federal IT industry.”
By April 2018, with the acquisition by General Dynamics IT complete, the CSRA facility became the General Dynamics Integrated Technology Center. By mid-2018, GDIT surpassed its target employment of 800 at the ITC in Bossier City, and the company employed more than 1,500 professionals statewide, including workers at a pair of Customer Engagement Centers in Bossier City and Bogalusa, and at other operations in Southeast Louisiana.