Landrieu Secures $22 Million in Omnibus for La. Universities
President Barack Obama this week signed into law the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009, a bill that includes $22 million in Louisiana university projects funded at the request of United States Senator Mary Landrieu, D-La. The legislation funds a wide variety of initiatives, including agriculture research, job training programs and law enforcement technology upgrades.
"The projects funded in this legislation will help keep our state's university systems on the cutting edge by funding new agriculture and alternative energy research," Sen. Landrieu said. "As Louisiana's universities face budget shortfalls threatening academic programs and job security I can think of no better time to direct investments to important research that might otherwise be cut. I will continue to ensure that the federal government invests in innovative university initiatives that will benefit not just Louisiana, but our entire nation."
As the federal government focuses more resources on developing alternative energy, Sen. Landrieu is ensuring that Louisiana universities play a key role. She secured funding for the Clean Power Energy Research Consortium (CPERC), a joint venture among Louisiana universities that received $1.9 million to study power and energy generation. CPERC's research activities address technologies to promote greater efficiencies, lower emissions and effective use and production of alternative fuels, including bio-fuels, to reduce U.S. dependency on foreign energy sources. Nicholls State is leading this effort, in coordination with Louisiana State University (LSU), University of New Orleans, Tulane University, Southern University and the University of Louisiana-Lafayette.
"Louisiana is third in the country in production of oil and gas and also the third largest consumer of industrial energy; for that reason CPERC members value this funding, not only for what it can do to reduce costs for Louisiana, but also for how it can deliver new levels of marketable technology for the nation," said Debi Benoit, Director of Research and Sponsored Programs at Nicholls State.
Sen. Landrieu also directed $467,000 to the LSU AgCenter to train and certify agriculture producers in Louisiana through a Master Farmer program. She secured $951,500 for a biorefinery for ethanol chemicals, animal feed and biomaterials from sugarcane bagasse.
"The funds earmarked for the LSU AgCenter are vital to enhancing the economy and improving environmental quality in Louisiana," said Dr. Bill Richardson, chancellor of the LSU Agricultural Center. "We've made significant progress through our research and extension efforts. But we need to move forward, and not fall backward through lack of sustained funding, with these programs."
To help create small business opportunities in Louisiana, Sen. Landrieu included in the omnibus $237,500 to develop Grambling State University's (GSU) minority entrepreneurship programs. The initiative will assist minority and other underrepresented business owners in rural Louisiana to develop business and operational plans, enhance the technology of minority Chambers of Commerce and minority-owned businesses, and train youth and non-custodial parents.
"We are pleased that Sen. Landrieu has been able to secure needed funds to help Grambling State University continue its mission," said GSU President Horace A. Judson. "Entrepreneurs are optimistic and innovative, so continuing to invest in them is especially valuable in these difficult economic times."
Sen. Landrieu secured $425,000 for the Northeast Business and Community Development Center to encourage economic growth and development in the region. The funding will provide training and research for business and community leaders. Specifically, this University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM) program will support training on budgeting, planning and marketing strategies and is aimed at growing businesses in rural communities that have struggled economically.
"We are extremely pleased that additional funding for the ULM Business and Community Development Center was included in the omnibus appropriations bill in the amount of $425,000," said James E. Cofer, President of the University of Louisiana-Monroe. "Considering the devastating news Northeast Louisiana just received concerning the closure of Pilgrim's Pride in Farmerville and IP in Bastrop, these funds will be extremely beneficial in starting to rebuild our economy. The College of Business is dedicated to providing needed services to local area businesses and this is just another example of the faith our Congressional delegation has in the ability of ULM and the College to serve the region."
In addition, Sen. Landrieu included $475,000 to improve transportation on Southern University's (SU) campus. The Southern University System Office of Facilities Planning will use these funds to start pre-planning construction of the Intermodal Transportation System to include parking consolidation and construction; pedestrian walkways; bike paths; public transportation complements; and landscape improvements to surface parking lots.
"Our goal is to provide students, employees and daily visitors to the Baton Rouge Campus with excellent transportation services to make getting around our three campuses at this location as energy efficient and convenient as possible. The project will provide on-campus parking and fleet deployment for University public transport vehicles, operate shuttle and charter bus services to and around campus, in coordination with Baton Rouge's bus transit system known as the CATS," said SU System President Ralph Slaughter.
The new Intermodal Transportation Center will house a parking garage, a transit terminal for shuttle bus services and city transit buses and limited bicycle lockers and showers for those that would like to ride their bike to campus.
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