Gov. Edwards Announces Coastal Technical Assistance Center

THIBODAUX, La. — Gov. John Bel Edwards, Nicholls State University President Jay Clune and South Louisiana Economic Council president and CEO Vic Lafont announced plans Friday for a resource center to help Louisiana companies compete for coastal protection and restoration work across the Louisiana coast. The Louisiana Coastal Technical Assistance Center will assist Louisiana firms in qualifying for work as contractors, subcontractors and suppliers in Louisiana’s growing water management sector. Details were shared in a press release.

The center, known as CTAC, will be based at Nicholls State University, where the South Louisiana Economic Council will oversee the center’s management and operations. CTAC will help companies acquire training, licensing and other qualifications for participating in the public bidding process for coastal recovery projects. Gov. Edwards and Dr. Clune joined officials from Louisiana Economic Development, the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, the South Louisiana Economic Council and The Water Institute of the Gulf in signing a Memorandum of Understanding for the creation and operation of the center.

“Louisiana plans to invest hundreds of millions of dollars annually, over the next 50 years, in projects that protect and restore our coast,” Gov. Edwards said. “These projects will create substantial new opportunities for Louisiana businesses. The Coastal Technical Assistance Center will be designed to help small Louisiana companies compete for this important work all across our coastal region on an unprecedented scale. We want Louisiana businesses involved in our coastal mission as much as possible.”

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LED and CPRA will provide a combined $750,000 in seed funding to establish the center. Each agency will contribute $125,000 annually for three years, beginning with the current 2020 fiscal year.

“We consider water management one of the key sectors for economic growth in our state,” LED secretary Don Pierson said. “Based upon the groundwork laid by the Louisiana Procurement Technical Assistance Center in Lafayette, we have a blueprint for leveraging the maximum opportunity for Louisiana businesses in the coastal and water management sector. This is an exciting economic development initiative, and we’re most appreciative of the resource and management roles played by Nicholls State and SLEC, as well as the project leadership that CPRA and The Water Institute of the Gulf will provide.”

“CPRA’s investments will transform the coast,” said CPRA chairman Chip Kline. “By teaming up with LED, Nicholls, SLEC, and the Water Institute, we believe we have a real shot at transforming the economy of South Louisiana as well. CPRA is measuring success in restored land and reduced flood risk, but CTAC also gives us the opportunity to measure our impact in jobs and business development.”

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Nicholls State University will serve as the center’s higher education partner, providing technical support, research and in-kind services, such as future shared office and small business incubator space dedicated to the coastal mission.

“The Coastal Technical Assistance Center will be a tremendous asset to South Louisiana,” Dr. Clune of Nicholls State said. “We have the most environmentally threatened student body in the world, so it is critical for Nicholls to be involved in the restoration and conservation of coastal Louisiana. This is an exciting project that we believe will result in impactful solutions.”

The South Louisiana Economic Council will oversee the center’s launch and operations, assisting in areas such as outreach and marketing, preliminary budgets, business plan development and accountability reporting.

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“The South Louisiana Economic Council has a record of deploying unique services for businesses during times of increased need,” SLEC President and CEO Vic Lafont said. “Representing Louisiana’s Bayou Region, we routinely see the efforts our state is putting forth to restore and ensure our coast remains working and vigilant. Our team is excited to be asked to lead this new initiative alongside LED, CPRA, The Water Institute of the Gulf and Nicholls State University – Louisiana’s closest university to the coast. Together, we will assist Louisiana-based small businesses in obtaining contracts with entities involved in the restoration and recovery efforts of coastal Louisiana.”

The Water Institute of the Gulf will assist CTAC in increasing employment and business opportunities in the water management sector. The Baton Rouge-based institute is a leading applied research center focused on coastal and deltaic solutions across the world.

“Restoring and protecting our coast requires all of us working together,” said president and CEO Justin Ehrenwerth of The Water Institute of the Gulf. “The Water Institute is honored to join the governor and our colleagues from CPRA, LED, Nicholls State and SLEC in supporting the creation of the Coastal Technical Assistance Center, which will continue growing our state’s collective capabilities in support of the coastal program.”

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