By: Yoojin Cho
Jul 13, 2018
AUSTIN (KXAN) — It's now official. The United States Army is bringing its Futures Command to Austin. They'll be setting up shop downtown at the University of Texas System's building on West 7th Street.
This is the most significant reorganization of our nation's Army since the 1970s.
The Army says the new headquarters will bring 500 jobs. It'll be a combination of uniformed employees and civilians.
"This is much bigger than a 500-men headquarters," said Lt. Gen. Eric Wesley, Integration Management Officer for Army Futures Command. "Because why? Because we'll facilitate from here investments of billions of dollars over a course of decades."
Lt. Gen. Wesley explained what set Austin apart from other competing cities was the Governor's University Research Initiative. It's a program that provides funding to eligible schools, so they can take on various research projects.
"So in that cooperation, if you see a niche area that you want to expand, given the governor's program and our desire to work in that field, I think you can see the synergy there," he said. "We'll put a demand or a requirement for technology that we need assistance in, and there might be a small university in the area who sees that as their niche."
Joshua Baer, founder & CEO of Capital Factory, told KXAN the Army would need help collaborating on various items, and that's where startups can also benefit.
"It's a lot like the challenges that any big company or big organization would face," he said. "IT and security problems they have to deal with. Cybersecurity. They have logistics problems. Transportation problems. Pretty much any kind of thing that every startup would do, might have some application there, too."
Local universities and colleges that offer computer science and information technology programs say having the new HQ is welcome news.
"A lot of our students are staying in the Austin area, and knowing there's going to be opportunities here for those students, and having a very targeted opportunity to prepare our students for is fantastic news," said Sarah Eichhorn, executive director of Texas Institute of Discovery Education in Science at UT Austin.
At Austin Community College, Linda Smarzik, dean of Computer Science and Information Technology said enrollment in technology-related programs has been growing.
"We have probably about a 9-10 percent growth for the fall," she said. She expects the interest to grow as the Army expands its footprint in Central Texas.