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Wednesday, 25 May 2011 14:59
Louisiana Raids Florida Digital Media Company, BitRaider
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Louisiana Technology ParkToday, a Florida digital media company wanting to take advantage of Louisiana's economic development packages has announced that it was moving to Baton Rouge.

Gov. Bobby Jindal, East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Kip Holden, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber and BitRaider MMO LLC CEO Royal O'Brien announced BitRaider will relocate from Jacksonville, Fla., to the Louisiana Technology Park in Baton Rouge. According to Louisiana Economic Development, BitRaider will create 22 direct jobs at the tech park, with average annual wages of $51,000, plus benefits. LED estimates BitRaider will generate another 35 indirect jobs in the regional economy, for a total of 57 new jobs. Also, the company will invest approximately $450,000 to equip its space in the technology park. Gov. Jindal also gave an update on Electronic Arts Inc., or EA, which plans to expand employment in Louisiana.

Gov. Jindal said, "This is yet another example of emerging companies in digital media who see the attractiveness of Louisiana's support for this sector and use local assets such as the Louisiana Technology Park to expand digital software development. The high-paying jobs that accompany these innovative digital ventures also mean more opportunities for our children to find high-paying careers right here in Louisiana."

To support its work, BitRaider is expected to make use of Louisiana's digital media tax credit program. Prior to 2009, BitRaider would not have been eligible for the digital media tax credits, but changes in state law that year clarified that software companies, as well as video game development firms, may qualify for the incentive. BitRaider also will work with LED's Louisiana FastStart™ program to obtain hiring and training assistance, so that it may begin operating in the technology park this summer. Company officials plan to apply for Louisiana's Research and Development Tax Credit as well.

BitRaider's patented technology allows customers to begin playing online video games within minutes with multiple players while other parts of the game download in the background. The expedited download can save game players hours and helps game developers attract and retain more users. The company describes its technology as Netflix-style streaming for video games.

Holden said, "The relocation of BitRaider to East Baton Rouge is a huge win for our region. We believe the status BitRaider holds in the digital media industry will be a catalyst for Baton Rouge. I have been very committed to the expansion of digital interactive media in our area and this addition further proves that our dedication to expanding the digital media industry can bring great things to Baton Rouge."

O'Brien said, "It was a combination of the tax incentives and strong economic development programs, as well as the people and community we discovered here that persuaded us to relocate our fast-growth startup to Baton Rouge."

Besides Florida and other states, BitRaider considered a move to Canada, where digital media tax credits are available, but the company found a more complete package in Baton Rouge.

Adam Knapp, BRAC president and CEO said, "BitRaider's decision validates the fact that the Baton Rouge area is a leading location nationally for the digital media sector. The unique offerings of companies like BitRaider and Firebrand Games, to go along with EA, Nerjyzed and Yatec Games, provide legitimacy to our region's position in the interactive media world."

At the press conference, Gov. Jindal also gave an update on EA. EA plans to significantly expand employment at its North American Test Center, or NATC, following a relocation of the NATC from its existing site on LSU's South Campus to the new Digital Media Facility on LSU's main campus. EA is close to maximum employment capacity at its current LSU South Campus location. Once EA shifts operations to the new Digital Media Facility sometime in 2012, employment is expected to quickly increase from approximately 400 jobs to more than 600 positions, including on-site contractors. Originally in 2008 the NATC was anticipated to create 20 full-time jobs and 200 part-time jobs. Already the direct employment at the facility has increased to about 200 full-time positions, including direct EA positions and full-time contractor positions and 200 part-time positions.

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