Troy, CGI solidify partnership

Published 9:25 pm Friday, September 25, 2009

Ala. Gov. Bob Riley announced Friday that CGI Group Inc. would be Troy’s newest industry, but for Pike County it’s really so much more than just a business.

Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford said CGI, a company that leads in information technology and business process services, essentially is the city’s missing puzzle piece.

“We’ve got fabulous jobs at KW. We’ve got great jobs at Sanders. We’ve got skilled jobs at Sikorsky and Lockheed. We’ve got highly skilled jobs in Troy,” Lunsford said. “You can work anywhere you want using your hands. If you’re not in education or something else, there’s not a lot of opportunity to work with your brain.

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“But we think (CGI) is the missing link.”

And, right from the start, the company that will bring with it at least 300 jobs to Pike County, felt the same.

“At the first meeting in Troy, Dr. Hawkins

was there, and the mayor’s personal relationship and Marsha’s (impressed us)— they immediately brought the community to meet and greet us,” said CGI’s Vice President of Human Resources and Onshore Delivery Stacey Martin.

“We just felt Troy had the right business and political relationship.

“After the first visit, it became clear Troy was right.”

CGI has plans to hire at least 300 people within the next three years, 100 of those by the end of 2010.

Martin said the business will seek a variety of positions, from software testing to design to business processing.

In addition, the white-collared company’s salaries will average $31,000 to $40,000 up to management level pay.

“Being able to successfully recruit CGI to Troy is tremendously rewarding, just knowing that people who really need good paying jobs will be able to find them in Troy,” said Marsha Gaylard, president of the Pike County Economic Development Corporation.

Not only will the business bring a kind of employment unique to the Pike County job market, many of those employees will be local hires.

“We will likely transfer a small number of people with some of our existing branches,” Martin said. “I would say 99.5 percent of the workforce will come from new hires.”

CGI will make its new home in the Park Lane Shopping Center, now owned by the Troy University Foundation.

The building will dedicate 50,000 square feet to CGI, and the remainder will be for Troy University’s Information Technology Department and its e-Campus operations.

“The Park Lane you see today will not be the Park Lane you see tomorrow,” said Troy University Chancellor Jack Hawkins Jr.

The company will lease the space from the university’s foundation, and the lease agreement terms are not public since Park Lane is not owned by Troy University itself.

The process to bring CGI to Troy was highly competitive, as the company looked at three states, more than 30 communities and 11 just in Alabama.

That’s 11, not including Troy, that wasn’t a part of the original sites selected as a potential location.

“Because Troy was not originally selected, we had a lot of catching up to do,” Gaylard said.

And it was a strong economic development team, she said, that made that catching up possible — a team including city officials, economic developers and Troy University personnel.

“My role was sort of two fold,” said John Schmidt, who is both president of the Pike County Economic Development Board and a senior vice chancellor for the university.

The university’s presence was an aid to the process, and in turn, the company, who plans to make a large part of its workforce college graduates, will be an aid to Troy University.

“Hopefully an industry like this will keep our young people in Pike County,” Schmidt said.

CGI Senior Vice President and General Manager Nazzic Turner said the company will officially open in January 2010, but hiring will begin immediately.

The company will temporarily operate in an office located in the Pike County Economic Development Center, Lunsford said.

While it is unquestionable CGI will have significant economic impact on the county, it will also play another unique role.

“The economic benefit is obvious,” said Greg Price, chief information technology officer for Troy University, who has been involved in the recruitment process. “However, from a strategic planning perspective, the company will foster growth in the technology vertical for the area.

“I think the company’s presence will be an opportunity to galvanize a wide-breadth of resources into a very marketable attraction for similar industry leaders.”