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August 13, 2010

Appropriations Committee targets ULM Business Incubator

The office of Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., recently announced that she and other members of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee recently paved the way for $100,000 in funding to help with renovations to the University of Louisiana at Monroe Business Incubator.

The 10,000 square foot, two-story facility is located on a corner lot adjacent to a federal highway and the entrance to the university, with operating funds and staff to support basic services through federal grants.

Barry Parker, executive director of the Northeast Louisiana Business and Community Development Center, said the building is readily accessible and adequate in total size, but not currently configured to support the needs of a multi-function incubator.

“In its current arrangement, the interior of the building is configured for educational classrooms,” he said. “Renovations would provide critical support services to a diverse range of business models by making provisions for individual resource space for businesses, along with common areas that will be shared among the tenants.”

To enhance tenant success, the university plans to locate the ULM Small Business Development Center within the facility, according to Parker. Some of the proposed changes include conversion of interior structure to an open/flexible space arrangement; office space for management and staff and the SBDC; acquisition of specialized equipment; and modifications for compliance with federal accessibility guidelines.

The U.S. Small Business Administration awarded grant funding to ULM in 2008 and 2009 to advance entrepreneurship and support economic development in the northeast region of the state, Parker said. As part of this initiative, the NLBCDC was tasked with developing and operating a multi-function business incubator on the ULM campus.

Through the incubator, support services for emerging and small businesses increase their long-term chances for survival. The funding, and the renovation, is key to the project’s continued success, according to College of Business Administration Dean Ronald Berry.

“We sincerely appreciate the leadership of Senator Landrieu for helping make this project a success and the support of our community partners, especially the Monroe Chamber of Commerce, who advocated on our behalf of it,” he said.

“We are grateful to Senator Landrieu for her hard work on behalf of this university and the Northeast Louisiana Business and Community Development Center,” added Steve Richters, ULM interim president.

“She, along with all of our Louisiana delegates, consistently propel worthwhile projects forward that help drive regional economic forces in this part of the state.”

The Appropriations Committee forwarded a total $3 million in funding that targets Louisiana in three key bills passed by its members. The legislation now proceeds to the full senate for debate to determine whether the requests are fully funded.

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