Thursday, December 15, 2005

By Timothy J. Gibbons, The Times-Union

A local training company will share in a $350 million contract from the U.S. Army, doing work that may add 100 employees to its Cecil Field location.

Jacksonville-based LSI Inc. is one of six companies that will provide training in all U.S. Army schools, preparing the curriculum that will teach soldiers and officers “everything from shooting a gun to driving a tank,” said company vice president Phil Voss.

The company was picked out of 23 that applied, according to the Army. Over the past five years, LSI was involved in a similar program as a sub-contractor for Northrop Grumman Corp. This year, Voss said, the military decided to go with smaller service providers rather than the four large companies it had last year: With 486 employees, LSI comes in under the 500-employee “small business” threshold.

That number is expected to grow, however, with Voss saying the company would bring on about 100 more employees — ranging from graphic designers to subject matter experts — who will work at Cecil Field. The company is also partnering with seven other organizations, including Florida Community College at Jacksonville.

The broad-based work LSI will be providing to the Army builds upon a range of more focused training it has done for military forces both in the United States and other countries. The company trains pilots operating a variety of aircraft, including the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which will be used by militaries around the world.