Gov. Bobby Jindal was joined by local officials at the Cyber Innovation Center Wednesday afternoon to mark military milestones for Bossier City and northwest Louisiana.
Jindal was joined CIC President Craig Spohn, Maj. Gen. Bennett Landreneau of the Louisiana National Guard, Bossier Parish Police Jury President Rick Avery, Bossier City Mayor Lo Walker, and Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover to mark the activation of the U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command at Barksdale Air Force Base, efforts to grow the CIC, and the state’s financial contribution to upgrade the Louisiana National Guard’s Regional Training Institute at nearby Camp Minden.
“We couldn’t be here without the cooperation of local, state, and federal government as well as the private sector,” said Jindal. “Only in Louisiana will you find world-class military complex assets like Barksdale Air Force Base, the Cyber Innovation Center, and Camp Minden.”
Jindal said the celebration was to mark the creation of 1,000 jobs.
“Today is about jobs. It’s about creating opportunities for our people. In northwest Louisiana, since 2008 we’ve announced economic development totaling 4,000 direct jobs, 5,664 indirect jobs, $1.2 billion in capital investment and all at a time while the rest of the country is going through one of the worst recessions since the Great Depression,” said Jindal.
He highlighted Col. Andy Thomson, field chief for Northrop Grumman stationed at the CIC; Rory Welch, president and CEO of technology storage company WaLa! at the CIC; and Scott Thompson, CEO of technology archival company Venyu as examples of a burgeoning knowledge-based workforce.
In 2008, Jindal committed $57 million to support Barksdale and the development of the CIC with another $50 million matched by local governments. The high-security, public-private CIC venture was launched to promote research, to support and market cyber-technologies, and to encourage collaboration between government, industry and academia.
The CIC is the anchor entity in Bossier City’s National Cyber Research Park, with the first phase completed in April 2010. The 135,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility currently hosts divisions of companies making headway in the cyber-security and high-tech defense sectors, including the Boeing Co., Northrop Grumman, SAIC, Venyu and Hitachi Data Systems. The U.S. Eighth Air Force Headquarters, part of the Air Force Global Strike Command at Barksdale Air Force Base, also is a tenant until construction is finished on the unit’s permanent headquarters at Barksdale.
“Our investment in Northwest Louisiana continues to pay dividends in exactly the way we had intended. The location of Global Strike Command and the associated growing contractor workforce are examples of new economic growth that would not exist today without this focused effort and investment. The continued growth of federal programs along with private industry growth opportunities will further demonstrate the success of this area’s economic diversification,” said Spohn.
Walker noted the CIC was created to help secure the Air Force Cyber Command, which became the 24th Air Force and was stationed at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. But said gaining Global Strike Command and using the CIC as a center for developing a new technology-based workforce was beyond consolation.
“We were a little disappointed when the command went somewhere else, but trust me, ladies and gentlemen, we landed on our feet,” said Walker.
In September 2008, Camp Minden secured $23.8 million of federal funding and $4 million from the state’s Rapid Response Fund to assist with construction of new facilities for its Regional Training Institute, or RTI, which is now expected to create 120 jobs in Northwest, Louisiana.
Phase I construction is complete and creates the initial infrastructure for the RTI. Formally known as the Region F Regional Training Institute at Camp Minden, the RTI opened and began courses in the first set of facilities on Jan. 1, 2011, after the initial relocation and transformation of staff and student training classes. The initial facilities represent more than 29,100 square feet and include the Entry Control Point, Central Plant, Supply Building, Dining Facility, Education Building and initial Student Billeting.Full-time staff of 10 in the first phase will grow to 120 by 2019, and Camp Minden’s annual operating budget will rise from $2 million to $11 million.
“The long term goal of the new Region Training Institute to be built at Camp Minden is to serve our National Guard as a premier training campus – a center of excellence for military training” said Landreneau. “The first phase of construction is investing more than $23 million on Camp Minden and the next three phases of construction being planned will invest more than $75 million during the coming decade. We’re proud to be a partner with the Cyber Innovation Center and a part of the economic growth in northwest Louisiana.”