General Dynamics builds next-generation IT
In April 2018, General Dynamics IT completed a nearly $10 billion acquisition of CSRA to create an IT services powerhouse in the federal sector. The combination joined the IT expertise of one of the world’s leading defense companies, General Dynamics, with another next-generation leader in IT services, CSRA.
Seeds of the successful merger lay in solutions the State of Louisiana provided when GDIT’s predecessor — CSC — searched the nation for a prime location five years earlier. After 134 sites were scrutinized, the location deemed most suitable for an 800-employee Integrated Technology Center lay in Louisiana, at the 3,000-acre National Cyber Research Park in Bossier City.
Site planning and infrastructure were key, but what ultimately swung the project pendulum to Louisiana was the state’s strategic plan for human capital.
More than a decade ago, state and local governments pooled over $100 million to create the Cyber Innovation Center, an anchor of the National Cyber Research Park in Bossier City. Part of the CIC’s mission is designing and delivering a K-12 cyber curriculum that has touched nearly 2 million students in thousands of classrooms across every state.
Louisiana took cyber training to a new level for CSC, GDIT’s predecessor. The state offered a laser-focused plan to deliver a technology workforce. A key point-of-presence resided one hour down Interstate 20 at Louisiana Tech University, where the Tier I research university created the nation’s first four-year degree in cyber engineering.
LED, Louisiana’s economic development agency, harnessed the strengths of the National Cyber Research Park, Louisiana Tech University and other higher education campuses (Northwestern State University, Bossier Parish Community College) to create the workforce blueprint.
The final piece of the training puzzle came in the leadership of LED FastStart® — the nation’s No. 1 state workforce training program. With LED FastStart as the training conduit, Louisiana Tech University launched a 10-year, $14 million higher education initiative to provide a pipeline of talent for the 800-job, next-generation technology center in Bossier City.
Dedicated to the future
When Gov. John Bel Edwards joined CSC to dedicate the nearly 100,000-square-foot Integrated Technology Center in November 2016, the training blueprint had built a strong foundation for technology talent.
As Louisiana Tech University worked to quadruple the number of undergraduate degrees awarded annually in computer science and STEM-related fields, LED FastStart worked with the Cyber Innovation Center and the company to attract talented military personnel exiting service at nearby Barksdale Air Force, home of the nation’s Global Strike Command for nuclear weaponry.
CSC had begun operations in the Cyber Innovation Center in 2014 and employed 400 by the time the company moved to its Integrated Technology Center in 2016. In the next two years, CSC spun off its public-sector business into a merger with SRA, and the resulting CSRA became the largest pure-play IT services provider serving the U.S. government sector.
When CSRA ultimately became part of General Dynamics IT in 2018, GDIT officials viewed the success of the Northwest Louisiana technology center as a strong selling point for acquiring CSRA.
By mid-2018, GDIT employed 900 technology professionals in Northwest Louisiana and 1,500 statewide, making the Bossier City location a signature success in Louisiana’s fast-growing software, digital media and IT services sector.
Not only had the higher education partnership fueled that success, but fully 35 percent of the Bossier City technology workforce were veterans valued for their work ethic, skills and security clearances.
“Our approach in Louisiana has been to build meaningful partnerships that attract the leading employers of the future in a way that grows our economy and provides our people with outstanding career opportunities,” Gov. Edwards said at the dedication of the Integrated Technology Center, now operated by General Dynamics IT. “This project is a great example of that winning approach. It builds on our heritage with Barksdale Air Force Base and propels us into the future with great partnerships among state government, local government and Louisiana’s higher education campuses.”
In the past decade, Louisiana has funded more than $200 million in STEM-related investments over and above regular funding for colleges, with over $65 million in higher education initiatives supporting such employers as GDIT, GE Digital, IBM, CGI, CenturyLink and others. That strategy has created a wave of economic momentum resulting in over 20,000 new direct and indirect jobs associated with new STEM, software, digital media and IT projects.