Although Louisiana’s public colleges face up to $300 million in state funding cuts next fiscal year, the state will fulfill a pledge to funnel $4.5 million over the next decade to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s computing and informatics school, the governor said Tuesday.
The deal is part of what led Montreal-based information technology company CGI to establish a location in Lafayette, where Gov. Bobby Jindal visited Tuesday to attend CGI’s groundbreaking ceremony.
The $4.5 million for UL-Lafayette’s School of Computing and Informatics — where students study courses like big data management and video game design — is expected to triple the number of students who earn an undergraduate degree in one of the program’s concentrations.
UL-Lafayette is in the final stages of drafting an agreement with the state on the incentive, said Ramesh Kolluru, UL-Lafayette’s vice president of research.
The agreement would allow the school to hire additional instructional and tenure-track faculty members, focus on recruitment, and develop plans to keep more students in school until graduation, Kolluru said.
“That’s what it’s going to take to flood the pipeline with more and more graduates,” Kolluru said.
Such anticipated growth means the school expects to be among the top 25 computing programs in the country for the number of bachelor’s degrees it awards annually, Kolluru said.
Those new graduates should be poised to work at one of three technology companies setting up shop in Lafayette — CGI, Missouri-based Perficient and California-based Enquero Inc. — all of which are expected to bring 1,000 new tech jobs to the city.
Most of the 19 new hires who began work Monday at CGI are UL-Lafayette graduates, bringing the company’s number of Lafayette employees to 41, said Eric Chapman, CGI’s consulting service manager, who moved his work and family to Lafayette from the company’s Virginia location.
CGI — which works with big data management, cloud computing and cybersecurity solutions — has said it will hire a total of 400 employees, and Louisiana Economic Development estimates those hires would create another 405 indirect jobs. Eighty people also will be hired to build CGI’s 50,000-square-foot facility on Cajundome Boulevard, an anchor for the university’s 143-acre research park.
Also included in CGI’s incentive package is a $5.3 million grant from LED to fund CGI’s relocation, recruitment, training and operating costs. And the company will reap the benefit of LED’s digital media and software development initiative, which offers a 35 percent tax credit on payroll for in-state labor and a 25 percent tax credit for in-state production expenses.
“We’re gonna honor those commitments,” Jindal said.
For choosing Lafayette, the company will be granted up to $1.1 million from the Lafayette Economic Development Authority to fund relocation costs and rental costs for its temporary Jefferson Street office until the facility opens in early 2016.
UL-Lafayette also will contribute $600,000 for CGI’s first five years in operation, and the state will cover the following four years with a $400,000 performance-based grant.
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