Last Modified: Friday, August 16, 2013 9:51 PM
The Southwest Louisiana Entrepreneurial and Economic Development Center, three years in the making, opened its doors Friday.
The SEED Center, built on eight acres of land across from McNeese, is designed to foster businesses and entrepreneurs and aid economic development in the five-parish area.
The building, at 4310 Ryan St., has 52,000 square feet, and its three floors will house university programs and regional business groups.
“This is truly a dream come true and a vision I’ve shared with this community for many, many years,” said U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, who attended the ribbon-cutting event. “I really try to focus in on the things that I can do to push resources to the areas that need it the most.”
Gov. Bobby Jindal, who was also present, said the facility will help the region “build on this great momentum that we’ve seen not just in Southwest Louisiana but across the entire state.”
The SEED Center is the product of work by the university, the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, the city of Lake Charles and the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, officials said. “At the end of the day, we’re all in this together,” Mayor Randy Roach said. “That is what this building represents.”
The building cost $13 million and was paid for with funding from the Louisiana Recovery Authority, the Police Jury and the city, along with money that came from the sale of the alliance building and a nearly $4 million U.S. Commerce Department grant.
George Swift, alliance president and CEO, said one of the main drivers of the project was the support and encouragement of Landrieu, who helped secure $11.5 million in federal funds.
In a news release, Philip Williams, McNeese president, noted that few universities in the U.S. have a regional chamber of commerce based on their campuses. “The collaboration between business and academia is the way Silicon Valley started,” he said in the news release.
• First floor: Southwest Louisiana Business Incubator and Entrepreneurial Center; Louisiana Small Business Development Center; Institute for Industry-Education Collaboration; Student Innovation Center; Business Incubation Studio; Student Internship Program; Office of Research and Sponsored Programs; and the Dore School of Graduate Studies.
• Second floor: Willis Noland Conference Center, named after the late businessman Willis Noland.
• Third floor: Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance; Service Corps of Retired Executives; Louisiana Procurement Technical Assistance Center; and the Imperial Calcasieu Regional Planning and Development Commission.