Louisiana Tech’s Enterprise Campus dedicated
More than 150 people gathered Thursday morning as Louisiana Tech’s research park, Enterprise Campus, was dedicated.
Elected officials, faculty, staff, students and members of the community gathered for the dedication and groundbreaking for the first building of Enterprise Campus, Tech Pointe. Members of the University of Louisiana board also attended.
Enterprise Campus will serve as a home for high-tech companies looking to commercialize the intellectual and research strengths of Tech faculty and students. It will also house government entities that wish to partner with the university in research, education and training, and other business development activities.
“It’s been a long march to get here today, but I never doubted we could develop a faculty, staff and student body that could produce in the way of economic development,” Tech President Dan Reneau. “It (the research park) is dedicated to the faculty, staff and students of Louisiana Tech and to the businesses that will be here and are here.”
He said the research park will be a place where technology transfer will occur.
“We had to develop an entrepreneurial spirit and a collaborative spirit. The productivity among our students is astounding,” Reneau said.
“We were able to raise a lot of money through the work of so many people. It was a group effort.”
Reneau said that some $25 million in state funding had been secured to construct the first building and to purchase land adjacent to the campus. Another $10 million in federal and private funds was also raised.
Dr. Randy Moffett, president of the University of Louisiana System, said that this was an important occasion for Louisiana Tech and for the people of Louisiana.
“We at the ULS are always proud of Louisiana Tech, and we’re fortunate to have Tech in our system and that (the university) is led by Dan Reneau,” Moffett said. “Things like this don’t occur unless you have good leadership. This will provide opportunities for people outside of Louisiana and will brighten the future for Louisiana.”
In its initial phase, the research park is expected to span 30 acres and ultimately more than 50 acres.
The foundation for the park started with the establishment of the doctoral degree in biomedical engineering in the 1970s, said Dr. Les Guice, Tech vice president for research and development, and one of the guiding forces behind the project.
He said the present focus on innovation was the result of the development at Tech over the past four decades of a research infrastructure and doctoral programs in strategic areas.
“We saw the growing need for a place – a research park – that would enable us to build strong partnerships with industry, government and the community,” Guice said.
The location of the research park – adjacent to the main campus and close to downtown Ruston – was chosen after evaluating 13 sites in the area. He said the site was selected because of its proximity to the main campus and access to the “amenities offered by a small, but progressive city.”
Ruston Mayor Dan Hollingsworth said that with this new research campus, Tech’s growth and prosperity continues to be a major economic development factor for this area.
“The potential for economic growth is limited only by our imagination,” Hollingsworth said. He said the challenge for the city is to build a community and region that complements the work of the university. To become a real partner with Tech, he said the city must improve public education, workforce development and the infrastructure.
“This project offers new and expanded opportunities to work with Louisiana Tech as new patents, services, ideas and inventions come to life with the prospect of new jobs, new industry and services,” Hollingsworth said. “This is an exciting time to live in Ruston, to see tremendous vision unfolding.”
State Rep. Hollis Downs and state Sen. Bob Kostelka said Enterprise Campus will economically benefit not only this region, but the state and nation.
“We’ve got to compete in the future through technology,” Kostelka said. “It’s a red-letter day for all of the I-20 corridor and for the United States.”
He said it is through projects like Tech’s research park that the United States can help stem the tide of manufacturing jobs going overseas.
“The way we have got to compete in the future is through technology and Louisiana Tech is and will be one of the leaders to keep this country in its rightful place on top,” Kostelka said. “This will be a monument to you, Dr. Dan Reneau and Dr. Les Guice, and that you will be remembered for generations to come.”
Downs echoed Kostelka’s sentiments noting that the idea for a research park gained momentum about five years ago when university officials talked about the need to link academic research with economic development.
“I quickly caught the vision and asked what it would take to make this a reality,” Downs said. “They explained that it was the essential missing piece in Tech’s quest to develop an outstanding research university that could produce a vibrant research-driven economic base.
“I am convinced that what we do today will forever change the economic landscape of north central Louisiana, allowing our sons and daughters to come home and stay home.”
For additional information about Enterprise Campus, visit http://enterprise.latech.edu.
Written by Judith Roberts and Reginald Owens