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Louisiana Injects $28.5M for TBED

October 09, 2006

The Louisiana Recovery Authority and the Louisiana Board of Regents recently unveiled a $28.5 million Research Commercialization and Educational Enhancement Program to stimulate economic development within the portions of the state severely impacted by Hurricanes Rita and Katrina. Funds for this program originate from the Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) appropriated by the federal government.


State officials report how Louisiana suffered $400 million in damage to research facilities and infrastructure after the hurricanes. Furthermore, officials report the aggressive recruitment of key research faculty by out-of-state institutions as another threat to future development and economic recovery. While Louisiana had a strong pre-hurricane research capacity, it lacked a coordinated and focused strategy to drive new company creation, market development, and marketing opportunities, according to an action plan developed by the state.


The highlights of the RC/EEP program include the following components:

  • Create an Eminent Scholars Program, similar to that of the Georgia Research Alliance, to promote the retention of faculty and the recruitment of researchers. Funds will be allocated to support salary increases, conference attendance, laboratory necessities, and graduate student support to assist these researchers.
  • Provide additional funds to ameliorate research capacity, such as laboratory reconstruction, scientific equipment support, and workforce support.
  • Generate an entity to encourage the development of technology in the pre-business phase, especially scientific discoveries with commercial potential.
  • Promote the active participation of existing faculty to develop the STEM environment of the state by utilizing salary enhancements, summer funding, and release time as incentives.
  • Expand student education and training through need-based and merit-based support.
  • Enhance research training by providing research opportunities for undergraduate students.

Separately, Louisiana universities are now allowed to invest public funds in private stocks as a result of a recent ballot initiative to amend the state Constitution. Until recently, reinvesting public funds such as profits derived from oil and gas drilling was not permitted by the Constitution. More conservative investment strategies have been traditionally used, such as bonds, which normally produce a lower return on investment than stocks. The revenues generated from these redirected investments will target the establishment of endowed professorships and chairmanships throughout the state.


The proposal for the Research Commercialization and Educational Enhancement Program can be found at: http://www.doa.la.gov/cdbg/dr/plans/Amendment%205_higher%20ed.pdf 


The original ballot initiative to modify the state Constitution of Louisiana is available at: http://www.legis.state.la.us/billdata/streamdocument.asp?did=407051