With four buildings on its 66-acre footprint in Bossier City just east of Bossier Parish Community College, the Cyber Innovation Center has filled its phase one acreage and is looking toward expansion.
Ground broke this month on BPCC’s four-story STEM and Allied Health building, and the pine tree topping ceremony was held for the fast-rising four-story Computer Sciences Corporation building where 800 people soon will work in high-tech jobs. And CIC, which has established this area as a nexus of cyber activity and education with a national stature, soon will build a research center near its own iconic headquarters.
“That’s all that going to fit on this block,” says Craig Spohn, CIC’s executive director. “We’re done with this piece of dirt. There’s no more room at the inn. All the construction is funded and advancing … We’ll get it done here within two years.”
So in coming months and years CIC will start to expand into its 3,000-acre National Cyber Research Park, an overlay district that through zoning and covenants limits the appearances and uses to which properties can be used.
“Land prices have increase significantly (since 2008),” Spohn said. “We paid in the $70s (per acre) for this acreage, but today I expect to spend in the $100,000 range.”
He said the combination of restricted uses allowed for property in the overlay district, coupled with increased land values, may encourage owners of land with uses not in line with the research park to sell.
“My hope is that lower value operations will leave in exchange for higher values for their properties and take advantage of that income benefit,” he said.
It’s the model followed 50 years ago in Huntsville, Alabama, where the Cummings Research Park boomed, initially during the space race for the moon and later with defense-related projects and the digital era.
Bossier City and Bossier Parish were partners with the state in the startup of the CIC in 2008. Louisiana spent $57 million and the local governments contributed $50 million.
“I think it’s doing everything we thought it would do and more,” Bossier City Mayor Lo Walker said. “I would be less than candid if I didn’t say it has come later than we expected. But none of us expected the recession and sequestration and the effect that had on missions and supported functions.
“But we were saying long before it became popular that cyber is the new warfighting domain. What we have done out there and the capabilities we have provided have demonstrated we are on the leading edge of being able to provide the military the support they need.”
Bill Altimus, Bossier Parish Police Jury administrator, said he is “pleased with the activities that are going on at the National Cyber Research Park.” CIC was created to support Barksdale Air Force Base through cyber and defense activity and partnerships and by bring in high-tech and defense-related jobs has helped “diversify our local economy and then also … support the nation. The NCRP has been successful in all these areas.”
Not that the CIC and its backers haven’t had to drop back and punt.
In 2007-08, not long after visionary former 8th Air Force commander Bob Elder, a three-star general, created a vision for the framework of an Air Force Cyber Command, the Air Force as most knew it was shattered.
A series of mishaps in the handling of the service’s strategic nuclear mission, including the inadvertent transfer from Minot Air Force Base to Barksdale of missiles with their warheads accidentally retained, eventually led to a shakeup that resulted in the firing of the Secretary of the Air Force and the Air Force Chief of Staff.
Both had been strong supporters of establishing Air Force Cyber Command at Barksdale.
At the same time, the importance of cyber in the defense sphere became clear to power brokers in the nation’s capital, and the various service efforts to develop cyber capabilities were coalesced into what now is U.S. Cyber Command, headquartered close to Washington at Fort Meade, Maryland.
The Air Force’s remaining cyber assets fell under 24th Air Force, headquartered at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, and control of the service’s strategic assets — nuclear-capable bombers and the nation’s land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles — was placed under a new Air Force Global Strike Command, headquartered at Barksdale.
One opportunity was snatched away, but another was put in its place.
A command has prestige and contracting authorities well above a numbered air force, and those will only compound with the arrival soon of AFGSC’s first four-star leader, Gen. Robin Rand.
“Having a four-star general on base is going to raise the importance of Barksdale to a new level,” Altimus said. “There is a saying that if you are not sitting at the table, you are on the menu. While we may previously have been sitting in the room where the table was, with our four-star now sitting at the table, we will now have input on the menu. I think for the future this will have extreme importance, especially considering the current budget issues facing the nation and defense in particular.”
Emphasis on education
CIC also has gone full-tilt into education, particularly STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — and robotics, two areas that are key to developing what is a mantra with CIC leadership, the “work force of the future.”
Partnerships have been forged with BPCC, Louisiana Tech and other colleges and universities.
On Saturday, Louisiana Tech planned to graduate the nation’s first graduating class in cyber engineering. The invited speaker for the graduation was a national figure who has visited the area before at CIC’s behest, Kamal T. Jabbour, Senior Scientist for Information Assurance at the Air Force Research Laboratory at Rome, New York. He helped Tech design the first-in-the-nation curriculum.
CIC created the National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center, NICERC, and has partnered with area and regional high schools with strong science programs.
These schools’ robotics teams have performed well at the Regional Autonomous Robotics Circuit, or RARC, a series of STEM competitions that also lead the way to the technologically savvy work force CIC hopes to culture.
The original vision was for CIC to have served as a bridge between industry needing a knowledge-based work force and the colleges and universities cultivating those bright minds, serving not only as a broker but creating the curricula needed.
“Now, the need for that brokerage is getting minimized because the ability for industry to get directly to those institutions has become fairly obvious and standardized to the point where a public-private partnership like ours is no longer recognized as a necessary element for the brokerage,” Spohn said. Now, “what we do is share what we created, for a lot of the work that we do in middle or high school has transferability to higher ed and industry.”
Helps area’s national standing
Altimus said the activities and programs created at CIC, “especially in the STEM and cyber education area that are now nationally known, the national and international companies that have located here, will be transformational to this area.
“Take CSC for example. While this area has had excellent IT companies already here, in one swoop over the next three years over 800-plus folks will be doing this work in one location for one company. For the same reasons CSC is here, I think other companies will be giving us a look to see what opportunities this area holds for them.”
Visiting CIC in 2011, then-Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano praised it for living up to the “innovation” in its name.
“The uniqueness here is the integration of different elements,” she said, noting community cooperation in creating a zoning overlay district to streamline and structure development in the area along a cyber-STEM plan.
She said community cooperation, collaborations with schools and the presence of Barksdale made Bossier City “a cyber-innovative community. Now we can begin to see how does that integration grow and begin to see how that can be replicated across the country.”
BPCC’s new $18.5 million building at CIC will house STEM and allied health education programs in 80,000 square feet on four levels. Expected to be complete in 16 months, it also will be home to nursing and science programs.
That space is broken into portions, with some 50,000 square feet of state-of-the-art classrooms and faculty offices and another 30,000 square feet of Class A office space that will allow industry and academia to collaborate. This in turn may encourage the STEM graduates to work locally.
CSC joins other major technology- and defense-sector firms already at CIC, including Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Venyu.
CSC’s 116,000-square-foot facility should open by March and employ 800 people.
“The CSC is sending out a loud signal to the cyber world that ‘Hey, this is a good place to do business,’” Walker said. “It is working out extremely well, and will be a catalyst for more industry coming in.”
Spohn said they may have to play catch-up.
“I think we’re going to find ourselves in a position of less than necessary, if you look at the the four-star major command as a discriminating qualifier for areas of growth and development, where they exist and what they do,” Spohn said. “It’s basically a defense-industrial base response to the demand requirements that are going to get generated out of a four-star major command. The community will see what we wanted with respect to a higher concentration of knowledge-based jobs in our community.”
The economy, not just at CIC but across Caddo and Bossier, he said, “is going to be complemented significantly by having a four-star major command in our city. … It’s going to force all of the different economic cycles to accelerate and expand, whether commercial real estate, residential, industry … all that’s going to expand.”
“We are seeing greater defense contractor interest in being here, especially in the areas of bombers, missiles and the nuclear mission,” he said. “With the four-star command here there will be greater opportunities for research, requirements and acquisitions being generated here, due to the fact a lot of decisions in these areas will be decided here.
“Defense contractors will follow the money and the purse will be here.”
Watch it happen
To see two views of daily construction progress of the CSC Building at the Cyber Innovation Center’s National Cyber Research Park, visit this live feed link, http://www.workzonecam.com/projects/mcinnisbrothers/ncrp-1/workzonecam
Cyber Innovation Center timeline
November 2006: Air Force announces development of Air Force Cyber Command.
June 2007: Bossier Parish and Bossier City leaders push for a center of cyber research to complement the provisional Air Force Cyber Command at Barksdale.
November 2007: The inaugural Cyberspace Symposium sponsored by the CIC is held at the Shreveport Convention Center.
July 2008: Construction bids awarded for CIC.
August 2008: CIC sponsors local informational tour of Huntsville, Alabama, Cummings Research Park. Air Force ends plans to establish Common Battlefield Airmen Training program for which Barksdale Air Force Base had been considered.
October 2008: Air Force announces that cyber efforts would be under the 24th Air Force. Creation of Air Force Global Strike Command is announced.
June 2009: U.S. Cyber Command established. Headquarters is at Fort Meade, Maryland.
August 2009: AFGSC becomes operational at Barksdale.
March 2010: CIC opens on 66 acres of land just east of Bossier Parish Community College in Bossier City, with 8th Air Force headquarters as first tenant.
September 2010: Northrop Grumman opens offices at CIC.
January 2011: Baton Rouge-based technology firm Venyu announced as tenant at CIC.
October 2011: Boeing opens office at CIC.
January 2012: Lockheed Martin opens offices at CIC.
February 2014: Computer Sciences Corporation, CSC, announces plans to build a technology center at CIC, with 800 jobs coming to area.
May 2015: Ground broken for Bossier Parish Community College STEM and Allied Health building at CIC.
Source: CIC, The Times files
Original article appears here http://www.shreveporttimes.com/story/news/local/2015/05/23/cic-fills-first-phase-eyes-future/27870971/