CGI will expand into the 50,000-square-foot space in the Versailles Centre in downtown Lafayette, officials announced late Thursday.

The global information technology firm signed a lease to move into the former MidSouth Bank space at 102 Versailles Blvd. and eventually increase its total employment to 800, said Will LaBar, vice president of CGI’s U.S. Delivery Center Program. It currently employs 500 at its office at 538 Cajundome Blvd. in the UL Research Park and at a small office on Jefferson Street. 

The move continues a recent trend of tech jobs moving to downtown Lafayette. moved 10 tech employees to an office on Central Street, and Waitr moved a number of employees to the Lemoine building last year. 

The company aims to have 300 employees downtown in 2021, LaBar said. 

“We are incredibly excited about this milestone," LaBar said. "With a recent influx of new residential options, local restaurants, activities, and nightlife, expanding our presence in downtown Lafayette is a strategic complement to CGI’s presence at University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Research Park.

"Lafayette continues to be a thriving location in our U.S. Delivery Center network and proves that comprehensive public-private partnerships that leverage local ecosystems work. We are creating a talent greenhouse here that supports CGI’s clients across the country and helps us reach our hiring target of 800 CGI professionals in Lafayette.”

At its research park location on the University of Louisiana at Lafayette campus, the Montreal-based company began operations in late 2014 and surpassed its goal of 400 employees by early 2018 with jobs that paid an average salary of $55,000.

CGI chose Lafayette over other U.S. sites after a nearly two-year selection process, according to earlier reports, for the state's business-friendly environment and the strong reputation of University of Louisiana at Lafayette's School of Computing and Informatics in high-tech circles for graduating top-notch personnel.

Four years later, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced CGI would create an additional 400 jobs and expand with a second Lafayette location.

It's the result of successful partnerships, said Don Pierson, secretary for Louisiana Economic Development. 

“The State of Louisiana is building economic opportunity for our emerging workforce of talented technology professionals,” Pierson said. “At this new location, CGI and its employees will again invest in Louisiana and contribute even more to the community and state, as they grow here. It’s easy to understand their selection of this location with the exceptional quality of life that downtown Lafayette offers.”

Of the CGI employees currently working in Lafayette today, 78% were living in Louisiana when hired, including more than half from Acadiana, state officials said. The remaining 22% brought additional experiences and expertise that has enriched Lafayette.

About one-third of CGI’s new hires start their employment directly after college. CGI officials have made efforts to recruit graduates from UL as well as other Louisiana-based institutions, LaBar said. 

Founded in 1976, CGI is among the largest IT and business consulting services firms in the world, according to its website. It delivers end-to-end services and solutions, including strategic IT and business consulting, systems integration, intellectual property and managed IT and business process services.

“The university is proud of its relationship with CGI and congratulates the company as it moves into downtown Lafayette," UL president Joe Savoie said. "We believe the proximity of the company’s new offices to the university’s main campus will create even greater opportunities for our students and faculty to engage with CGI and other downtown organizations that support entrepreneurship and innovation.”

The space was home to Lafayette-based MidSouth Bank, which was acquired by Hancock Whitney last year. The location was one of five Hancock Whitney closed after the acquisition. 

Champion Real Estate Services of Lafayette owns the building.

“CGI’s expansion into the Versailles Centre is great news for the community, and I feel privileged to have such great news to share at the start of my term,” Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory said. “Four hundred jobs moving into downtown Lafayette will be a great boost to commerce in the district and the community.”

Acadiana Business Today: CGI to expand into former Mid-South Bank building in downtown Lafayette; Site at Spanish Trail Industrial Park in Broussard gains state certification

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