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Louisiana Tech receives EDA award to support regional high-growth job creation

Award is one of only 13 presented nationally, second largest amount given to any awardee –

Louisiana Tech University has received one of 13 awards for its I-20 Corridor Regional Accelerator proposal as a winner of the Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge – a national competition designed to spur job creation and economic growth in rural communities by identifying and leveraging local assets and strengthening linkages to industry.

The $964,134 total award provided by the US Economic Development Administration (EDA) was the second largest given to any regional proposal and will support Louisiana Tech’s partnership with Winrock International Institute for Agricultural Development in Little Rock, Arkansas.

The Obama Administration made the awards announcement recently as part of its national initiative to support rural partnerships that are critical components of the Administration’s efforts to support small businesses.

“This funding allows us to extend the business plan competition model that has been successfully developed for students on the Tech campus to other students, entrepreneurs, and existing businesses throughout the northern Louisiana and southern Arkansas region,” said Kathy Wyatt, director of the Technology Business Development Center at Louisiana Tech.  “It also encourages smaller communities to become more fully engaged in growing their own businesses while facilitating the development of important economic clusters in our region.”

Wyatt anticipates that the partnership with Winrock will result in growing interest in entrepreneurial endeavors, more business starts in rural communities, enhanced support for business implementation, and increased funding opportunities for new ventures.

Dr. Dave Norris, director of Louisiana Tech’s Enterprise Center says this jobs accelerator initiative will create a formidable new partnership between Louisiana Tech University and Winrock International that integrates the activities of the university’s centers of excellence in innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology business development with the internationally renowned work of Winrock in community capacity building and business acceleration.

“Together we will implement a novel approach to rural business acceleration and engage communities that have thus far been left out of the burgeoning innovation enterprise in the I-20 Corridor,” said Norris.

Louisiana Tech received strong support for the project from a number of community and business leaders throughout the region including the mayors of Ruston, West Monroe, Arcadia, Bastrop, Farmerville, Delhi, Springhill, and Bernice.  Support also came from CenturyLink, ConAgra Foods, Murphy USA, Community Trust Bank, Louisiana Economic Development, North Louisiana Economic Partnership, and Northeast Louisiana Economic Alliance.

U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, U.S. Senator David Vitter, U.S. Congressman Rodney Alexander, Senator John Boozman, Senator Mark Pryor, and Congressman Mike Ross were also strong in their backing of Louisiana Tech’s proposal.

Louisiana Tech continues to establish itself as a leader in and a model for accelerating the commercial application of innovative technologies, with national and international impacts, through the strength of its people and partnerships in north Louisiana.

The Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge award is the second EDA grant that Louisiana Tech has received within the past year.  Tech was awarded $1.1 million in October 2011 through the i6 Green Challenge program for its Proof of Concept Center.  The Center supports and expedites the introduction of new “green” technology innovations into the marketplace.

The Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge competition, which is funded by the EDA, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Appalachian Regional Commission, and Delta Regional Authority, was designed by the Taskforce for the Advancement of Regional Innovation Clusters and the White House Rural Council.