After a huge unveiling in August of its first ever high-tech center, the U.S. Army has slowly started to get the facility in downtown Austin up and running.
The new center, named the Futures Command, has grown its staff to around 30 people so far, Army spokesman Patrick Seiber said this week in an interview. The center also has started to outfit its offices on the 15th and 19th floors of the University of Texas System building and at Austin startup hub Capital Factory.
The plan, Seiber said, is to have about 300 staff members by next summer.
“We’re starting to advertise for jobs” at the Futures Command, Seiber said. “It will be incremental on how it’s going to grow.”
Army officials have said the Futures Command will eventually employ up to 500 workers, many of whom will be software engineers and other high-tech specialists working with the Army to develop its next generation of weapons, vehicles and other military tools.
The Army opened the facility on Aug. 24 in front of a crowd of hundreds at the UT System building, including state officials such as Gov. Greg Abbott, and U.S. Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn. The celebration came weeks after the military branch named Austin as its site for the facility after a national search that included 150 U.S. cities.
From the beginning, Army officials have said they intend to make the Futures Command very different than any of the Army’s other operations. In picking Austin, officials have said they will work with the city’s rich startup culture to modernize itself while also speeding up its internal processes.
The Futures Command will have a starting annual budget of up to $100 million. The center is also being given free rent at its UT System headquarters until 2019.
The Futures Command also recently unveiled one of its first initiatives: Building sunglasses for soldiers with night vision, GPS and other computer capabilities.
Seiber said the Army has put out a bid for the project and is working toward a partnership with one or more local companies.
“We’re still working to build out our spaces,” Seiber said. “Once we have that done, we can become fully operational.”