The funding for the University Center Economic Development Program Competition was provided by the Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
This program supports initiatives that are focused on advancing regional commercialization efforts, entrepreneurship and a high-skilled regional workforce.
The timing is perfect about the grant announcement with the opening this Friday of the $13 million Southwest Louisiana Entrepreneurial and Economic Development Center located at McNeese State University.
The SEED Center is a one-stop shop for economic development, encouraging entrepreneurship and support for local business in Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron and Jefferson Davis parishes.
In addition to the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance and business incubator, the SEED Center will be the home of the McNeese Student Innovation Center that includes classrooms, a lab and student business and idea incubator. "We have a minor in innovation that is open to all majors," Woolman said. "We also have a very strong undergraduate research program, so creating an ecosystem to support innovation and entrepreneurship is critical for our students and faculty."
Woolman said undergraduate research projects will support the outreach activities associated with the EDA grant.
A total of $2.5 million in grants was awarded and Southern University in Baton Rouge was the only other Louisiana institution to receive an identical grant.
The grants are designed to help America "stay innovative and competitive in the 21st century economy," said Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker.
"EDA recognizes that institutions of higher education are critical players in the development of vibrant economic ecosystems. Universities contain significant economic development assets-such as faculty, staff, students, research and proof of concept centers, laboratories and high speed broadband networks-to support regional economic growth," said Pritzker. "Innovation is the key to global competitiveness, the creation of new and better jobs, a resilient economy and the attainment of national economic goals."