Our Views: On the river, a new star

Not in Austin. Not in Raleigh. Not in Nashville.

In Baton Rouge, the location of one of only three key development centers in North America for technology giant IBM.

The IBM Services Center: Baton Rouge is the formal name for the center that will bring 800 direct jobs to the area.

IBM’s center will be built through the Baton Rouge Area Foundation’s real estate trust on the riverfront site where The Advocate was formerly located. The property is part of a sale and donation to the Baton Rouge Area Foundation from the Manship family, curently owners of The Advocate.

A residential tower will be part of the complex, adding to the project’s impact on the region and particularly for the downtown core of the Capital City.

We could not be more excited about not only today’s jobs but the potential for this project to expand Louisiana’s footprint in the nation’s technology sector.

Many of the ribbon-cuttings or jobs announcements that Gov. Bobby Jindal and others have participated in lately have been important ones, but many have been in our traditional petrochemical sectors. Cheap natural gas, perhaps a century’s supply in North America through fracking, is a big economic factor for Louisiana.

But as Jindal said at the IBM announcement, this could be “a game-changer” for the city and the state. IBM will use the center to serve clients with development and management of computer applications for its clients.

This is a growth sector within the economic universe of growing demand for technology.

LSU will be a key player in training software professionals for the site. The governor said the state will contribute $14 million over 10 years for faculty and recruiting for computer sciences at the state’s flagship university.

In Louisiana, the location of outside tech companies and the growth of in-state startups, from New Orleans to Lafayette to Shreveport, are hugely important developments. Association with a name like IBM can only provide a boost to this developing process of diversification of our economic base.

We applaud the efforts of those who have helped to bring IBM to Baton Rouge, and hope for a long and fruitful association with Big Blue.