When Gov. John Bel Edwards announced in August that a new Louisiana Cyber Coordination Center would be established at the Water Campus, near downtown Baton Rouge, he said it was a step towards establishing the state as a global leader in cybersecurity.
But what kind of work will the center—to be shared by the Louisiana National Guard and two other tenants—accomplish? And why will it be located at Commercial Properties Realty Trust’s Water Campus, which boasts some of the most expensive lease rates in the city, when the Guard has several acres of undeveloped property adjacent to LSU’s Innovation Park?
The Cybersecurity Coordination Center will be a collaborative space, housing workers with the Guard alongside employees of LSU’s Stephenson Technologies Corporation and Alabama-based Radiance Technologies. Jeff Moulton, executive director of Stephenson, says most of the work completed collaboratively by the three partners will be for federal clients, such as the U.S. Department of Defense.
The cost of readying the 11,000-square-foot space for use by the Guard, Stephenson and Radiance Technologies is $1.5 million, with Louisiana Economic Development picking up the tab.
LED is also putting up another $500,000 to support lease payments on behalf of the Guard for up to five years. The expectation is that the Guard will make budgetary adjustments down the road to shoulder its share of future rent payments. Stephenson and Radiance will each provide $100,000 for rent, says LED Secretary Don Pierson, subleasing 3,000 square feet each from the National Guard. As of February, rent in the building was reportedly $30 per square foot—a steep price considering downtown Baton Rouge’s oversupply of Class A office space.
Pierson defends the lease, saying it was the most effective option to getting the project off the ground so quickly. Rather than retrofitting an existing building or building a new facility at the Guard’s property near LSU’s Innovation Park, utilizing an under-construction property, says Pierson, was the quickest and most cost-efficient option to making a certified secure space for cybersecurity work. Read the full story about the cybersecurity center from the Oct. 22 edition of Business Report.