Yesterday, Gov. Bobby Jindal joined Electronic Arts Inc. (EA) Head of Worldwide Quality Assurance Mike Robinson to break ground on the 94,000-square-foot Louisiana Digital Media Center that eventually will be home to 600 video game development workers and LSU’s Center for Computation & Technology. EA, the video game company that produces titles like The Sims™, Madden NFL, says that this new building will house its North American Test Center.
The $29.3 million project will result in a three-story structure on LSU’s main campus. LSU’s Center for Computation & Technology had long sought a contemporary, permanent home for its programs that drive academic and business research with high-performance computing. The state also sought a permanent home for the EA North American Test Center, which has been located on LSU’s South Campus since 2008 with nearly 400 workers, half of which are full-time employees. Both of these goals will be realized at the Louisiana Digital Media Center when it opens in 2012 on LSU’s main campus. The Jindal administration has contributed $26.3 million to complete the new center.
Gov. Jindal said, “We are proud to make Louisiana the permanent home of EA’s North American Test Center as part of LSU’s Digital Media Center. We are quickly becoming a major player in the digital media industry, which is creating more high-paying and high-tech jobs for our people so they don’t have to leave the state to pursue the career of their dreams. We continue to make major investments in higher education – at LSU and across our state – so we become the best place in the world for businesses to grow and succeed.”
The Louisiana Digital Media Center is funded by state capital outlay dollars and Louisiana Economic Development funds. The U.S. Economic Development Administration also contributed a $3 million grant for development of the center. EA will be the major private-sector tenant with 30,000 square feet, and LSU’s Center for Computation & Technology will be the major university tenant, with 50,000 square feet. The Louisiana Digital Media Center also will include instructional space with cutting-edge audio/visual capabilities that will support LSU’s academic research efforts related to digital media and software development.
“Digital media and software development will be one of Louisiana’s top growth industries for the next two decades and possibly beyond,” said LED Secretary Stephen Moret. “The future growth of this industry in Louisiana will depend to a great extent on the ability of our higher education institutions to produce the specialized talent that this industry requires. The Louisiana Digital Media Center will help accomplish that goal, as will other partnerships between higher education and LED that we are beginning to cultivate this year.”
In addition to housing EA and LSU’s Center for Computation & Technology, the facility will be home to the new AVATAR initiative at LSU. AVATAR – Arts, Visualization, Advanced Technologies and Research – unites faculty from many disciplines and enables students to conduct research and to complete projects in virtual environments, digital art, electro-acoustic music, animation, video game design, scientific visualization and more.
EA is among dozens of applicants that have taken advantage of Louisiana’s Digital Interactive Media & Software Tax Credit.
“The Louisiana Digital Media Center takes EA and Baton Rouge’s digital media sector to a whole new level,” said Adam Knapp, president and CEO of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber. “The cross-pollination of ideas between academic research experts and the world’s leading game development company has the potential to fuel digital media innovation in exciting and unanticipated ways. This facility and the resources utilized for its creation will be a national model in public-private partnerships in higher education.”