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Firm To Bring High-tech Jobs To Rural Texas

"I don't mind going in and cherry-picking other states," he said with a wry smile Wednesday. "It's called competition."

Figures including the investment in CGI weren't immediately available, but Perry noted last month that the Texas Enterprise Fund has invested more than $443.4 million and signed contracts to generate 62,000 new jobs and more than $15.4 billion in capital investment.

It is one of two pools of state funding designed to bring job-creating firms to Texas, though critics say injecting state dollars into the business market is tantamount to "crony capitalism" and picking private-sector winners and losers.

Founded in 1976, Montreal-based CGI has approximately 31,000 employees in 16 countries. It offers end-to-end information and technology processes and services, meant to provide clients with every step of technological development.

The company already has more than 700 employees across Texas. The new center will create at least 350 new jobs, and perhaps as many as 400, by 2016. Schindler said 50 people have already been hired for the Belton facility â¿¿ which is set to open in December â¿¿ and there will be about 100 hires for it by the end of the year.

Though it has a presence in places like India, CGI said it is expanding in the U.S. because some of its American clients who have moved production overseas are looking to restart operations closer to home and free from cultural, currency or time zone challenges.

Fort Hood is about a half hour's drive away, and CGI plans to recruit military veterans and their relatives. Schindler said CGI already does a lot of work for the U.S. armed forces.

The area could use an economic shot in the arm. The unemployment rate for Bell County, which includes Belton, was 7.6 percent in February and was as high as 8.6 percent last year. Texas' statewide unemployment rate has fallen for six consecutive months, to 7.1 percent in February.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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