New IBM facility in downtown Baton Rouge working with universities

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - IBM announced on Wednesday the company has partnered with Louisiana State University to help build its Computer Science program.  The plan aims to ultimately help fill hundreds of jobs and keep young professionals working in the Capital City.

In downtown Baton Rouge, construction crews are busy building what will become the biggest software development center in Louisiana. The ground has barely been broken on the future home of IBM and Talent Development Manager, Dima Ghawi said IBM has already hired one hundred people to start moving on major work developments.

"We want them to be the project managers so one of the focuses we have is for next year to bring project management training in and help our employees with that so they will be able to lead projects on behalf IBM throughout the U.S.," Ghawi said. 

Meanwhile, Ghawi said, IBM has partnered with LSU to help recruit and train students for the industry. The company is investing in updating the university's Computer Science curriculum to meet the growing demand. Ghawi said LSU will serve as a model that will eventually be implemented at other universities around the state.

"The students once they graduate from those programs they are going to be so competitive that any company would do anything to get them," Ghawi said.

IBM said the plan is to create a direct pipeline for those students to find work right out of school.

Louisiana Economic Development Secretary, Stephen Moret, said while IBM has committed to 800 jobs, the space they've secured in downtown Baton Rouge is being designed for even bigger, better things, for the company and the state.

"What I think is particularly exciting is that since IBM announced, some of the other companies we had been talking to, top software companies in the world, have expressed an increased level of confidence and interest in Baton Rouge in Louisiana," Moret said.

Moret would not elaborate but said an announcement could come as soon as next year.

IBM plans to kick off its first internship program in Baton Rouge in the spring.

The new service center downtown is scheduled to open on April 15, 2015.

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