IBM, Monroe

IBM pursues smart location for technology clients

Digital technology icon IBM is no stranger to innovation, and in September 2011, IBM sought a new location to serve its major domestic clients. IBM needed a technology center capable of meeting the demand for data-intensive applications. To that end, the company also sought a partnership with academic institutions to build research and workforce opportunities.

As IBM began the site selection process, Louisiana emerged as one of more than a dozen potential locations. With strengths that included a best-in-the-nation incentive for software applications, Louisiana was emerging as a technology hub in 2012. Additionally, the state capital of Baton Rouge possessed critical components of IBM’s project needs, including higher education resources, workforce assets and a revitalized downtown. Baton Rouge emerged as a leading candidate, and Louisiana Economic Development assembled a partnership to support a new software technology center. LED collaborated with Baton Rouge’s consolidated city-parish government, the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber and Louisiana State University to make the best case for Louisiana and to deliver workforce solutions for IBM’s needs.

All partners were aligned to support IBM’s investment. The comprehensive proposal developed by these partners addressed the company’s long-term needs and also created a presence in downtown Baton Rouge. To address IBM’s desire to collaborate with higher education campuses, the State of Louisiana agreed to provide $14 million over 10 years, directed toward growing computer science resources and boosting the number of annual computer science graduates at Louisiana universities.

IBM officials announce major investment in Baton Rouge

With the strategic partnership in place, IBM found the right business environment and project solutions the company needed in Louisiana. The company committed to creating more than 100 new jobs by mid-2014 and eventually growing to 800 jobs later in the decade.

To secure the project, LED facilitated a $30.5 million performance-based grant consisting of state, local and federal funding to build an eight-floor office building as part of a new mixed-use urban development on Baton Rouge’s riverfront. In addition to new Class A office space and 600 dedicated parking spaces, the development would include an 11-floor residential tower and a private recreational terrace joining the buildings above a multilevel parking garage. Leveraging resources of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, Louisiana secured BRAF’s commitment to build and manage the entire $55 million project.

At a groundbreaking ceremony in September 2013, company officials announced that IBM had surpassed the 100-employee milestone, beating the target by eight months. The company moved into the new downtown office in May 2015. Additionally, IBM’s partnership with LSU advanced as the university tailored its computer science program and other technology curricula. IBM also identified opportunities to partner with additional universities throughout the state. 

IBM expands Louisiana operations to Monroe

In the summer of 2015, IBM again joined state and local leaders, as well as Glen Post, CenturyLink CEO and president (1992-2018), to announce that IBM would establish a new 400-job Application Development and Innovation Center in Monroe, Louisiana. At the IBM office in Monroe, the company provides clients with services that address the increasing demand for flexible software services to keep up with big data, cloud computing and the new requirements for mobile accessibility.

To support IBM’s continued investment, Louisiana provided $12 million for the construction of a new mixed-use office complex in Monroe, where IBM is the anchor tenant. IBM is receiving the comprehensive workforce solutions of LED FastStart, the nation’s No. 1 state workforce training program, and is benefiting from payroll incentives through the state’s Quality Jobs Program. The IBM Client Innovation Center in Monroe anchors an 88-acre, mixed-use development that includes a complementary mix of residential, commercial and recreational uses. The site is located near the corporate headquarters for CenturyLink, and IBM and CenturyLink are partnering on research, development and product innovation initiatives. 

As part of the Monroe project, Louisiana is providing $4.5 million over 10 years to expand higher education programs and graduates in technology studies. With this support, the University of Louisiana at Monroe is expanding computer science and computer information systems programs, while Louisiana Tech University and Grambling State University are expanding their technology programs in related areas, such as cyber engineering and data analytics.

With operations in two cities, IBM thrives in Louisiana

In the summer of 2019, IBM successfully achieved the hiring goals it established with the State of Louisiana and exceeded 800 employees in Baton Rouge. In addition to creating career opportunities, the company has built a legacy of volunteerism through the IBM Culture of Service. Beneficiaries include the LA Women in IT’s annual “Code Day” for high school girls, and STEMup Baton Rouge mentoring for underserved middle school students. These and other nonprofits have benefited from the support of IBM’s Baton Rouge employees.

Additionally, IBM has been involved in public health initiatives, including supporting the state’s mission to eradicate Hepatitis C through the unique “IBM Garage” approach to service management and operations.

IBM’s most direct and synergetic impact on the broader community is its partnership with higher education institutions to grow Louisiana’s digital media and software development workforce. In the age of cloud computing and AI, IBM is working with state universities and community colleges to increase enrollment in computer science programs statewide.

Company officials also are working with educators to refine curricula and increase value to the broader business community in Louisiana. In fact, IBM’s partnership with LSU’s Stephenson Department of Entrepreneurship & Information has supported a 250 percent growth in the Computer Science Department since 2013.

“IBM's Louisiana-based employees have transformed the Baton Rouge Client Innovation Center into a globally recognized technology hub. Our team is in the right place at the right time, and we're changing the world by putting smart to work.” 
Charles Masters
Vice President, North America Client Innovation Centers