From Vision to Reality: Bayou Region Incubator Welcomes Generous Support at Grand Opening

The Bayou Region Incubator and the Student Entrepreneur and Innovation Center celebrated a momentous occasion at their grand opening event, as they were presented with over $110,000 in generous support from various sponsors, as per this news release from Nicholls State University.

Among them, Chevron’s contribution of $50,000 played a pivotal role in furnishing the common areas and offices, ensuring that the space is equipped with essential furniture, office equipment, internet services, and mentoring platforms. Lisa Kliebert, the Executive Director of the Bayou Region Incubator, expressed immense gratitude, noting that without Chevron’s contribution, furnishing the space would have been a significant challenge.

In addition to Chevron’s support, Mosaic also stepped up with a substantial contribution of $50,000. This contribution focused on promoting diversity and inclusion within the incubator community. It encompassed crucial aspects such as diversity and inclusion training, roundtable cohorts, and sponsorship for the BRI to become a member of the River Region Chamber of Commerce. This sponsorship enables businesses associated with the incubator to attend River Chamber events as guests, fostering networking and collaboration opportunities. Kliebert emphasized the transformative impact of Mosaic’s contribution, highlighting its potential to benefit up to 17 businesses through various membership offerings, ranging from private office space to virtual memberships.

Premier Food Group’s donation of $7,500 was directed towards the creation of essential areas within the incubator, such as the kitchen and break room. These spaces are integral for fostering a conducive work environment, where members can recharge and enhance their productivity without having to leave the premises. Moreover, Premier Food Group has pledged to volunteer their time and expertise to conduct multiple training sessions at the BRI, further enriching the support ecosystem provided by the incubator.

Furthermore, Susanna Lamers, CEO of BioInfoExperts, contributed $3,300 to sponsor a Dedicated Desk membershipfor a full year. This sponsorship underscores the community’s commitment to supporting aspiring entrepreneurs on their journey towards success. To ensure transparency and accessibility, applications for all sponsored memberships or vouchers will be made available on the BRI website and social media platforms.

Reflecting on the significance of these contributions, Lisa Kliebert remarked, “The grand opening of this business incubator signifies the beginning of a powerful regional resource, fueled by the unwavering support of our sponsors. Chevron, Mosaic, Premier, and BioInfoExperts have fueled the Bayou Region Incubator to ignite movement – a movement dedicated to fostering innovation, launching dreams, and propelling the economic engine of our entire region.”

Looking ahead, the Bayou Region Incubator is poised to become a vital hub for entrepreneurial activity in the region. With plans to accommodate approximately 40 to 50 startups and small businesses, the incubator will offer a wide range of amenities and resources. From collaborative workspaces and meeting areas to private offices and multifunctional conference rooms, the incubator is designed to meet the diverse needs of its members at every stage of their entrepreneurial journey. Moreover, the incubator will serve as a platform for learning and growth, offering access to trainings, guest speakers, networking opportunities, mentoring, workshops, pitch competitions, and professional development initiatives.

Central to the mission of the Bayou Region Incubator is the promotion of a diverse, sustainable, and inclusive economy in Louisiana’s coastal community. By investing in entrepreneurship and small business development, the incubator aims to address the challenges posed by the coastal crisis and contribute to economic vitality in the aftermath of the pandemic and ongoing environmental threats.

In conclusion, the grand opening of the Bayou Region Incubator marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter for entrepreneurship in the region. With unwavering support from sponsors like Chevron, Mosaic, Premier Food Group, and BioInfoExperts, the incubator is poised to become a beacon of innovation, collaboration, and economic growth in Louisiana’s coastal community.

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Nicholls Awarded Grant to Install Bayou Region Incubator

Thanks to a recently-announced $3.5 million grant, Nicholls State University will soon be the home to the Bayou Region Incubator according to a press release from the school.

This multimillion-dollar grant comes from the Louisiana Office of Community Development, as it is a part of their Block Grant CARES Act Program (CDBG-CV). The awarded funds will be put towards a Bayou Region Incubator that will give local entrepreneurs access to business consultations, various training opportunities, technical assistance, and funding opportunities. The incubator will also bring in multiple guest speakers to Nicholls’ campus, organize entrepreneurial pitch competitions, provide professional development opportunities, and host a variety of entrepreneurial workshops.

Executive director of the Bayou Region Incubator, Kevin Pitts, commented on the vital need for such an establishment for growing businesses, saying “as these businesses grow, they will create more jobs and contribute their fair share of taxes. All of this will help the local economy. 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.”

The incubator identifies some of its primary objectives as enhancing a sense of resilience for entrepreneurs in a post-COVID-19 landscape by diversifying the surrounding, local economy and developing multiple strategies for businesses to adapt to. Some of these strategies will be used to respond to new economic trends that may emerge and other imaginable, unexpected challenges. In addition to these pragmatic objectives, the incubator also plans to organize several programs for minority-owned and women-owned businesses and to generally support business development and the creation of jobs in communities with low and moderate levels of income.

When the funding for the project was initially announced, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards emphasized the focus on economic recovery in the wake of a worldwide pandemic as a reason as to why the state is supporting such an initiative. Out of the total $3.5 million, $2.6 million will be used to construct the nearly 8,000 square foot facility this fall, and the remaining $900,000 will contribute to operating expenses.

Nicholls President Dr. Jay Clune said of the grant, “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. 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 building, which will be located on the same “footprint” as Nicholls’ future Coastal Center on the corner of Acadia and Ardoyne Drive, will house collaborative workspaces, private offices, and a multifunctional conference room. All of the facilities within the incubator will be accessible by participating small businesses. At the conclusion of this 2-year grant, the Bayou Region Incubator will transition into a self-managed nonprofit.

The dean of Nicholls’ College of Business Administration, Dr. Marilyn Macik-Frey, said of the future facility, “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. 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.”

With this new Incubator being housed on the campus of Nicholls, small businesses in the Bayou Region will be set up with the facilities, resources, and expertise needed to be successful and innovative in the competitive entrepreneurial landscape of not just South Louisiana, but the world at large.

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Nicholls Professor Awarded Grant to Improve Science Education

Students in the Bayou Region will soon be able to learn first-hand about DNA and molecular structures thanks to a grant awarded to a Nicholls professor, according to a press release from the school.

The Louisiana Board of Regents, the state agency that coordinates all public higher learning institutions in the state, has recently awarded Nicholls assistant professor of teacher education, Dr. Aimee Hollander, $69,056 for a project that will serve to educate local students and faculty about molecular structures through the creation and displaying of models.

In addition to being a Nicholls assistant professor, Dr. Hollander serves as the program director for the Center for Teaching Excellence and science secondary education, making her the perfect liaison to bring this valuable resource to Nicholls’ campus for both university and high school students and faculty to benefit from.

Now that it’s funded, the project aims to house an impressive collection of magnetic 3D molecular models at Nicholls’ Ellender Memorial Library so that it can be used by local biology and chemistry faculty for their courses. The models will be available for checkout to faculty at Nicholls as well as local schools, potentially impacting thousands of students. In addition to the models, the grant is also set to fund professional development for faculty so that the models can be used as effectively as possible.

The professional development will ensure that teachers know the full functionality and set of uses for the models, with the development being aligned to the Louisiana Science Standards. The State Standards require Louisiana educators to incorporate “the developing and use of models” to teach matter structure, chemical reactions, and information processing, so not only will the models available at Nicholls be useful but the professional development will be as well.

When it comes to certain subject matter in Chemistry, many students struggle with imagining abstract subject matter like DNA, due to its minuscule size. The conceptualization can often be a roadblock or a deal-breaker for students majoring in the sciences or those simply taking science courses as part of a general education degree plan. This can often lead to students seeking out videos of digital molecular models on Youtube, which can be helpful for some, but students that identify as tactile learners will have a lot more success with the physical 3D magnetic molecular models soon to be found at Ellender Memorial Library.

Housing the 3D models in the University library follows the long-standing collegiate tradition of the library being the centerpiece of all facets of research, information gathering, and in more recent years: educational resources. The internet is widely known to be a source of information, but with Youtube offering resources as well as uncertified curricula on its platform, many science majors might be tempted to take the “easy way out” and learn about Chemistry concepts from a content creator instead of their professor, which can have systemic problems and detrimental consequences down the line.

Ellender Memorial Library offers a maker space that will be able to be used in conjunction with the models to advance learning and modeling, which might lead to future 3D modeling competitions being brought to the Bayou Region some years in the future. These events are a unique blend of hybrid education and competitive spirit that students with interests in both the sciences and engineering can benefit from.

When asked about the impact of this grant in the coming years, Nicholls professor, Dr. Hollander said, “I have always wanted to provide my students with a more hands-on experience when learning biology and chemistry. These models will be accessible to regional teachers for use anytime during the semester and provide an experience that cannot be provided otherwise.”

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