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Jul 5, 2010 7:09 AM by Sharlee Barriere

SW Louisiana Starting One-Stop Economic Center

LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) - A seed has been planted that officials
hope will bear fruit for generations of Southwest Louisiana
residents to come.
McNeese State University, the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, the
city of Lake Charles and the Southwest Louisiana Economic
Development Alliance last week signed the charter for the Southwest
Louisiana Entrepreneurial and Economic Development Center.
Ground for the building is slated to be broken before the end of
the year.
Officials met for the signing at McNeeses Hardtner Hall. The
signatories were McNeese President Robert Hebert, Police Jury
President Kevin Guidry, Mayor Randy Roach and George Swift,
alliance director.
Funds for the business incubator project will come from
Louisiana Recovery Authority money awarded to the parish as part of
its Longterm Community Recovery Program.
Of the $18.6 million awarded to the parish, $7 million will go
toward the center, which will be built on eight acres of
McNeese-owned property.
Roach said the project is an example of local entities working
together for the good of the area "as a whole" and "in order to
grow our economy."
"I think its very appropriate that we think of it as a seed, a
very important seed," he said.
The SEED Center, designed by Champeaux, Evans & Hotard, will be
three stories and 50,000 square feet.
The center, touted as a one-stop economic development center,
will house facilities for developing businesses; McNeese Small
Business Development Center offices; conference and training rooms;
and classrooms and faculty offices for the schools business
college.
"Through this joint partnership, McNeese has the opportunity to
play a central role in economic development, and provide
exceptional education and training for our students while
benefiting Southwest Louisiana," Hebert said.
"All of the partners concerned believed the strategy of
centralizing economic development and entrepreneurial activities on
the McNeese campus for the five parishes will enhance economic
growth for the area."
Swift said the center will serve the entire area, not just
Calcasieu Parish.
"Our region has long needed a one-stop center to encourage
entrepreneurial and economic development within the five parishes
of Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron and Jeff Davis," he said.
"With the building of the SEED Center, Southwest Louisiana will
be the last metropolitan region in Louisiana to have a full-scale
incubator."
Officials have been working on the project since 2005.

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