BATON ROUGE — Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards and Chancellor Rodney Ellis of Southern University at Shreveport announced $1.135 million in economic development funding to spur workforce, aerospace and entrepreneurial programs at the Shreveport campus also known as SUSLA.
Chancellor Ellis received the performance-based grants in a check presentation at this morning’s Southern University System Board of Directors meeting at SUSLA. Included are $750,000 for new Information Technology initiatives; $175,000 for the new Milam Street Kitchen Incubator & Community Kitchen, known as MS KICK; $125,000 for facility improvements in the Airframe and Powerplant Maintenance Program; and $85,000 for advancement of LED’s Small and Emerging Business Development Program at SUSLA.
“More career options and diversity exist in today’s economy than ever before, and synchronized workforce and higher education programs are the key to unlocking those opportunities,” Gov. Edwards said. “We’re delighted to maximize the potential of SUSLA students by providing these targeted LED investments that will create exciting career options in Shreveport and Northwest Louisiana.”
The largest funding initiative will establish the Center for Excellence in Computer Information Systems at SUSLA, which recently began collaborating with industry partners on curricula that will prepare students for software and information technology careers. In addition to defining curriculum and career pathways, SUSLA will recruit a lead manager and faculty for computer information systems; will enhance classroom equipment and software; and will establish professional certification programs for industry partners.
“I am excited about this infusion of resources into our programs,” Chancellor Ellis said. “It will truly allow SUSLA to competitively meet the workforce demands of this region and this state. We are truly appreciative of the support LED has and will provide us.”
For the MS KICK program, LED is providing funding to accelerate workforce and incubator programs tied to the community kitchen and incubator project that opened in the historic Ledbetter Heights neighborhood in 2019. Incubator staff and instructors will lead training focused on culinary arts, restaurant management, food safety, culinary medicine and related certifications. MS KICK – which includes a commercial-grade kitchen, a restaurant/café area, and training and event space – also will develop Shreveport’s hotel and tourism management workforce, as well as food packaging and distribution projects that are linked with the city’s participation in the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Choice Neighborhoods project.
“SUSLA brings tremendous value to the City of Shreveport and our citizens,” Mayor Adrian Perkins said. “By combining strategic investments from the State of Louisiana and innovative partnerships with industry, SUSLA can deliver better value and greater opportunity to its students. The university’s faculty, staff and programs all will benefit. Best of all, Shreveport’s economy will grow from these important investments in technology, aerospace and small business programs.”
SUSLA’s Airframe and Powerplant Maintenance Program will develop additional classroom space at the Shreveport Downtown Airport, where the program provides aerospace technology instruction in adjacent hangar space. The SUSLA program will support recent economic development projects announced by Western Global Airlines (170 jobs in aircraft maintenance) and Advanced Aero Services (60 aviation maintenance jobs by 2021, with the potential to add hundreds more jobs).
LED’s Small and Emerging Business Development Program provides technical and managerial assistance through intermediaries that help Louisiana entrepreneurs grow and sustain their businesses. As an SEBD intermediary, SUSLA’s Center for Business and Community Development will provide that small business support for the MS KICK incubator project and for the broader Shreveport community.