Bossier City is taking steps to see a new building added to its National Cyber Research Park after being on the back burner for several years.
The Bossier City Council approved Tuesday an ordinance that would appropriate $700,000 from the sale of approximately 13 acres in the East Bank District to finish the designs for the Louisiana Tech Research Institute (LTRI) building.
“This will put us in the situation to be fundable. It’s like a state project — in order to get funding, you have to be shovel ready. This gets us ready to go seek funding,” said Bossier City Attorney Jimmy Hall.
LTRI is a joint effort between the Cyber Innovation Center (CIC) and Louisiana Tech to expand the knowledge-based, 21st century workforce by advancing public/private partnerships, accelerating applied research and development, and promoting the commercialization of technology in the areas of cyber, energy, and resiliency.
The project is looking to get restarted after lying dormant for approximately three years due to funding issues.
“It was funded by state money, but there’s not enough to finish it with the condition of the state,” said Hall.
Hall admitted, “We have some issues to face in the legislature,” but added, “We received capital funding, but we can work on trying to move up the chain once we get the construction set.”
The timeframe to finish the designs are approximately four to six months once revenue is available from the land sale.
The city will contract with local architect Mike McSwain to complete the designs. McSwain had already begun the designs before it was paused.
“We made a pretty hard effort before it went dormant,” McSwain said. “We have a plan we can dust off and use as a template, but most of the modification will happen on the inside.”
Craig Spohn, executive director of the CIC, noted there is approximately $900,000 invested in the design already.
“Finishing the design for readiness would get the building architecturally ready for bidders. It has to have a level of specificity for how the building is going to be constructed,” Spohn said.
The building previously had $900,000 worth of funding dedicated in capital outlay. However, funding issues within the state means the CIC will have to seek additional options.
“We have some options depending on finalizing usage of the space,” said Spohn. “If there’s commercial usage space, we can use that lease income for bonding for the necessary capital (for construction).”
A non-profit 501c3 corporation currently operating out of the CIC, LTRI was created to solve national strategic challenges, specifically focusing on advancing basic research to applied research and ultimately to technology commercialization. This is all aimed at generating pubic and private investment and entrepreneurship that creates new companies in the knowledge based workforce.
LTRI will allow creation of a workforce that will modernize the nation’s nuclear capabilities, which has clear ties back to Barksdale and US Air Force Global Strike Command.
“The lack of workforce is limited at best,” said Spohn. “I’m working with (Louisiana Tech President) Les Guice on a workforce development plan like we have for cyber. This building and its partial use is intended to backstop some of the needed support for nuclear modernization.”
Spohn said the reestablishment of that type of workforce “is not dissimilar to what we’re doing in cyber.” Specifically, how the CIC partnered with local universities to create tech degree pathways that now feed companies like GDIT in the National Cyber Research Park.
Spohn estimates the building could be less than two years away from construction, but variables outside their control may lengthen that timeframe.
“If a couple of things break our way, we’ll be in good shape to get started in a couple of years.”