By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
About 300 individuals turned-out just before 12 noon on Friday for a virtual celebration of a major economic development win for the Knoxville region in its quest to be a next generation innovation hub.
In a press conference featuring Governor Bill Lee and other dignitaries, CGI Inc., one of the largest independent information (IT) technology and business consulting services firms in the world, announced plans to locate its eighth U.S. IT delivery center in Knoxville. The exact location is still a work in progress, but the Montreal-based company said it will invest $27 million and create 300 jobs over the next five years.
“We are very excited about what’s going on in Knoxville,” said Dave Henderson, CGI President of U.S. Commercial and State Government Operations. “After a competitive and wide-ranging search, CGI selected Knoxville based on a number of factors – most notably access to talent and a strong culture of innovation within the Knoxville area and the State of Tennessee.”
The company has already started its job search here, Henderson said, noting that the company will be providing employment opportunities for students, graduates and professionals. CGI employs 76,000 people globally and has already created 1,700 jobs at the first seven IT delivery centers that it has launched.
There are a number of ways that Friday’s announcement validates efforts underway locally. It came to fruition after a roughly two-year recruitment effort that included representatives of the Knoxville Chamber, TVA, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, and both City of Knoxville and Knox County representatives.
- The Knoxville Chamber’s “Path To Prosperity” five-year plan places a high priority on five strategic areas or platforms where the region is uniquely positioned to drive growth. Those areas are communications, health, movement, power, and security, and CGI is clearly positioned to be a showcase for several of them such as security and communications.
- Leveraging the Knoxville region’s technology assets is a key recommendation of the recent Techstars assessment of the area, a point that was underscored by Henderson and Governor Bill Lee who, in his prepared comments, talked about the strong reputation in the technology sector that the region enjoys.
- Additionally, for the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK), the announcement provides significant opportunities – from recruitment of the best and brightest students who seek careers in advanced analytics, cybersecurity, and digital transformation to jobs after graduation. The Haslam College of Business and the Tickle College of Engineering will play key roles in building a talent pipeline for CGI locally and beyond. UTK Chancellor Done Plowman described the announcement as “an important day” for the institution.
- Finally, as noted in this recent teknovation.biz article, Mike Odom, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Knoxville Chamber, talked about the nearly net zero growth in the all-important 25- to 54-year old demographic. Having good paying jobs like those that CGI pays will be a boon to efforts to keep homegrown talent here along with those that come here for a college education.
Founded in 1976, CGI delivers an end-to-end portfolio of capabilities – from strategic IT and business consulting to systems integration, managed IT and business process services, and intellectual property solutions. The company works with clients through a local relationship model complemented by a global delivery network that helps clients digitally transform their organizations and accelerate results. CGI reported revenue of $12.16 billion in its 2020 fiscal year.
While CGI has not announced a specific location for the new center – most existing employees are still working virtually as a result of COVID-19, the company has launched local recruitment for individuals with software development, business analytics and other in-demand technology skills. Hiring will begin this month, and interested candidates can visit www.cgi.com/us/en-us/careers to learn more.
Here’s the full news release from Friday’s event (CGI Media Release). In a separate news release from UTK, Chancellor Plowman offered these additional comments: “Our new partnership with CGI is the first step toward developing a long-term alignment that includes not only recruitment of our students and workforce development for alumni, but also the opportunity to engage with a multinational information technology company on large-scale research and innovation initiatives. Our faculty and CGI combine to form a tremendous translational research and hiring engine that will keep UT graduates in East Tennessee—graduates who are trained in advanced data analytics, machine learning, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and other critical fields.”