The Office of Community Development has announced a $3.5 million grant to establish a Bayou Region Incubator at Nicholls State University.
The incubator will allow access to consulting, training, technical assistance, and funding opportunities to local entrepreneurs. Guest speakers will also visit the incubator to host entrepreneurial workshops, organize pitch competitions, and provide professional development.
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.”
The incubator’s objectives are to enhance 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 along with unexpected challenges. The incubator will also organize programs for minority and women-owned businesses. It will also support business development and job creation in low and moderate-income communities.
“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.”
Governor John Bel Edwards emphasized economic recovery in the wake of a global pandemic as a reason the state supports the initiative during the announcement of the money.
The facility will be approximately 8,000 square feet, and construction is expected to begin in the fall. The cost of construction will cost about $2.6 million and will be located on the same footprint as the future Coastal Center, which is on the corner of Acadia and Ardoyne Drive. Small businesses will have access to collaborative workspaces, meeting rooms, private offices, and a multifunctional conference room.
The remaining $900,000 of the funds will contribute to operating expenses. The incubator will become a self-managed nonprofit following the end of the 2-year grant period.
“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.”