Office of Community Development Awards Nicholls $3.5 Million to Create Bayou Region Incubator
The grant is a part of the Louisiana Community Development Block Grant CARES Act Program (CDBG-CV).
“This grant will cement Nicholls State University as the economic heart of the Bayou Region. We expect the Bayou Region Incubator will produce everything from coastal solutions to innovative ideas in technology, healthcare and more,” Nicholls President Dr. Jay Clune said. “Rebuilding our coast is more than physical land. It’s rebuilding the quality of life. And the Bayou Region Incubator will sprout businesses and generate jobs that will only augment the unique character of South Louisiana.”
Through the incubator, local entrepreneurs will have access to consulting, training, technical assistance and funding opportunities. The incubator will also bring guest speakers to campus, host entrepreneurial workshops, organize pitch competitions and provide professional development.
“As these businesses grow, they will create more jobs and contribute their fair share of taxes. All of this will help the local economy,” said Kevin Pitts, the incubator’s executive director. “While some businesses will focus on coastal dynamics, we will work with a diverse variety of businesses. These will be businesses that the Bayou Region can be proud of.”
The incubator’s objectives include enhancing resiliency in a post-COVID-19 environment by diversifying the local economy and developing strategies for businesses to adapt and respond to new economic trends and unexpected challenges. Additionally, the incubator will organize programs for minority and women-owned businesses and support business development and job creation in low and moderate-income communities.
In announcing the money, Gov. John Bel Edwards emphasized economic recovery in the wake of a global pandemic as a reason the state supports the initiative.
Construction of the approximately 8,000 square foot facility is expected to begin in the fall and will cost about $2.6 million. The facility will be located on the same footprint as the future Coastal Center, at the corner of Acadia and Ardoyne Drive. Inside the incubator, small businesses will have access to collaborative workspaces, meeting rooms, private offices and a multifunctional conference room.
The remaining $900,000 will contribute to operating expenses. Following the end of the 2-year grant period, the incubator will become a self-managed nonprofit.
“This facility will be a place for entrepreneurs to access training, mentoring and space to make their dreams of a successful business come true. Helping ideas grow into viable businesses benefits the entire region through economic diversification and job creation,” said Dr. Marilyn Macik-Frey, dean of the College of Business Administration. “We are especially excited that the incubator will be on the campus. Students and faculty will have a resource in their backyard that allows them to transition research and creative ideas into viable businesses.”