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|SOUTHEASTERN TO OPEN REGIONAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
HAMMOND – Southeastern Louisiana
University will open this spring a regionally-based economic and business
center designed to facilitate economic development in southeast Louisiana
and to serve as a model for other university and business partnerships
around the state, Southeastern officials confirmed today.
Southeastern President Randy
Moffett said the university has purchased a two-story, 17,000 square foot
building on the perimeter of the university campus with a goal of facilitating
economic development by assembling a regional “one-stop-shop” for economic
development activities for the region.
“The development of this business
center is in direct keeping with the university’s mission to lead the educational,
economic and cultural development of the region,” Moffett said. “One of
Southeastern’s most important initiatives is to serve as a catalyst for
economic development. This center provides an ideal opportunity for the
university to strengthen its partnerships with area economic development
Moffett said the new center will
provide a central location designed to facilitate a spirit of cooperation
and a sharing of resources among various entities focused on improving
the economic climate of the region.
“In addition, the center will
serve as a conduit that links the university and all businesses and potential
businesses, allowing them access to the varied resources of the university
that can assist them in building or expanding their businesses,” Moffett
The building – located at 1514
Martens Drive approximately one block from the university’s north campus
– is known as the former Zapata-Haynie Building. The class-A office building,
which was built in 1985, includes more than 40 offices, two large common
areas, and more than 70 parking spaces. The University of Louisiana System
Board of Supervisors approved purchase of the building at its December
meeting, and official closing is expected in early spring.
Moffett said funds to purchase
the building came from Southeastern’s sale of property located near the
Hammond Airport to the city of Hammond for the U.S. Customs expansion project.
A stipulation of the sale was that the money be used for economic development.
The new facility will allow Southeastern
to expand its Small Business Development Center (SBDC), currently located
in the College of Business and Technology, and to make it more accessible
to the region’s business community, said William Joubert, Southeastern’s
director of economic and business development, who also supervises the
activities of the SBDC. The SBDC serves a five-parish region and has assisted
more than 1,300 clients with counseling and assistance in building and
expanding their businesses since 1996. The SBDC has assisted clients in
obtaining nearly $100 million in government contracts and more than $20
million in new loans and capital.
Joubert said initial organizations
participating in the center also include the Tangipahoa Economic Development
Foundation, the Hammond Industrial Development Board, and the Florida Parishes
Economic Development Association. In the near future, he said, the center
will house a business incubator to assist new businesses in their early
“In addition, we anticipate the
Louisiana Department of Economic Development and the Louisiana Department
of Labor as well as other federal and state agencies will join us in expanding
the services being offered through the center,” Joubert added. “Those agencies
see this center as an opportunity to construct a model of university, government
and business collaboration that can be replicated in other parts of the
Skip Smart, assistant secretary
in the Office of Business Development of the Louisiana Department of Economic
Development, said the state fully supports Southeastern’s commitment to
regional economic development.
“The acquisition of the building
for this purpose is consistent with the collaborations envisioned in Vision
2020, the state’s strategic plan for economic development,” Smart said.
“The department is attempting to secure funds to assist Southeastern in
establishing a pilot one-stop center for entrepreneurship to serve the
Florida Parishes region. The center will complement other initiatives under
development by Southeastern to support regional economic development. This
innovative project could ultimately be duplicated in other regions of the
Moffett said the new center also
complements Southeastern’s ongoing efforts in the area of workforce training,
noting the university has obtained more than $1 million in grants from
the Louisiana Department of Labor in Incumbent Worker Training Grants that
are helping area businesses improve the technical training of their workforce.
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