The tech industry in Shreveport-Bossier just passed its 10-year anniversary last summer, but CSRA, the fruit sprouted from the seed that is the Cyber Innovation Center planted more than a decade ago, will reach its four year anniversary this month.
With that in mind, news broke just a few days ago that the internet technology giant would be purchased by major defense contractor General Dynamics in a multi-billion-dollar deal. I won’t recycle that news here, you can read about it on page 9 of this edition.
A next-generation technology center with 800 jobs and the anchor tenant of the National Cyber Research Park in Bossier City, CSRA selected Bossier City as the home of its Integrated Technology Center (ITC) following a competitive site-selection process of 134 national locations.
It was a huge win for our area and validated community leadership’s vision of bringing a technology industry to northwest Louisiana.
And judging from social media reaction and some questions posed to me in the wake of the news, a lot of people are worried that it could all go away because of decisions made in the Beltway, thousands of miles away from our corner of Louisiana.
The influx of millennials and outside talent has acted as a catalyst for positive changes across our community. From helping fuel the revitalization of downtown Shreveport to Bossier City redeveloping Old Bossier to form a lively new district, East Bank, it has helped spur a lot of good. People are scared that it will all be for naught if the new company decides to take those jobs back to Washington DC, or elsewhere altogether.
But I’m here to tell you: It will be okay.
If you listen to what CSRA and General Dynamics officials are saying so far, they want to utilize the talent that is already in place in Bossier-Shreveport and leverage the ITC. With its proximity to Barksdale Air Force Base and what General Dynamics does, plus the fact that defense spending has increased more than it has since America was embroiled in wars with Afghanistan and Iraq, I believe General Dynamics wants to be close to Global Strike Command and the talent cycling out of Barksdale in the form of Air Force veterans.
I understand the concern. The effort to not only set up the Cyber Innovation Center (CIC), but then establish a National Cyber Research Park and attract a major tech company like CSRA took a herculean public-private partnership. Spearheaded by Bossier City, Bossier Parish, and the CIC in conjunction with the State of Louisiana and Louisiana Economic Development (LED), an incentive package was developed that would fund construction of the ITC and its necessary infrastructure in exchange for next-gen careers.
Not to mention forming partnerships with local higher education institutions, like Louisiana Tech, Bossier Parish Community College, and Northwestern State University to create a fluid, ever-adapting pipeline for new talent to fill those jobs at the ITC.
Yes, any change of this level should cause some concern. Especially when it affects something so new, something that the community fought so hard to get.
To be honest, we have no idea what General Dynamics is planning. But in the meantime, let’s show them how much CSRA means to our community and how much we value their workers and presence in our backyard. Let our national legislators, public officials, and CSRA leadership know we want them here and we’re proud to have them.
And let’s do it with a glass half full view.
Sean Green is publisher and editor of BIZ. Magazine