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CGI tech center coming to UL-Lafayette

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LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — Information technology company CGI will open a technology center in the University of Louisiana at Lafayette's Research Park.

The plans were announced Monday at a Lafayette Economic Development Authority gathering attended by Gov. Bobby Jindal, CGI officials and others. The Advocate reports (http://bit.ly/1tWToS5) that the facility is expected to employ 400 high-tech workers in the next four years. CGI executive James Peake said annual salaries will average $55,000.

Peake said CGI will begin hiring in a few months, and will start operations at a temporary location later this year,

Construction is to begin this year on the $13.1 million, 50,000-square-foot building. The Louisiana-financed facility will be leased by CGI and owned by UL-Lafayette or a nonprofit associated with the university.

As part of the CGI project, Louisiana will fund a $4.5 million program over 10 years to enhance UL-Lafayette's School of Computing and Informatics. The goal is to triple the number of four-year computer science degrees awarded each year so Louisiana's growing high-tech sector can stay staffed, Jindal said.

Jindal said the state pledged other incentives to get CGI to locate an office in Lafayette. He said Louisiana will provide a grant of $5.3 million to help offset the cost of relocating personnel, to recruit and train employees and to pay building operating expenses.

CGI chose Lafayette over other U.S. sites after a nearly two-year selection process, Peake said, because it's in a business-friendly state and because of UL-Lafayette School of Computing and Information's strong reputation in high-tech circles for graduating top-notch personnel.

Peake said CGI officials also were drawn to Lafayette because of events such as Innov8 Lafayette, the ongoing festival celebrating innovation and technology, and the just concluded Festival International de Louisiane.

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