WISE Council sets standards for money

Published 9:59 am Friday, August 22, 2014

A group that oversees a college fund created by the Louisiana Legislature is deciding how to dole out $40 million to state schools.

That may seem like a lot of money, but it’s got a long way to go.

The WISE Council, which oversees the Workforce and Innovation for a Stronger Economy Fund, is setting standards as to where the money should go.

Schools will have to apply for the money and will have to match some of the money.

The fund was created in the spring legislative session as the state prepares for what is an expected surge

in the petrochemical and manufacturing industries. It’s a program that’s a necessity as the state readies for growth. The purpose of the WISE Fund is to propel money toward engineering, research and other programs expected to be in high demand.

The money comes from three sources — $17 million from general state tax revenue, $11 million from the state construction budget and $12 million from federal recovery money from Hurricanes Gustav and Ike (although that needs federal approval and can only be spent in certain parishes).

A larger amount is given seemingly every day for the money being invested into Southwest Louisiana — the latest number ringing in at more than $70 billion.

With that growth is going to come jobs. Some of those jobs will certainly come from out of state, but Louisiana must do its part to keep as many jobs as it can at home.

Certainly, funding our Southwest Louisiana schools is important, but schools around the state will be preparing workers, too.

The group overseeing the fund consists of education leaders as well as workforce leaders. They have a tall task, because they must diligently decide the best course of action to make sure that the state’s workforce needs are met.

If the right decisions are made now, it will be a step toward ensuring jobs are filled, both now and in the future.(MGNonline)