Coalition to compete for up to $100 million to supercharge Southeast Louisiana’s economy

NEW ORLEANS (Dec. 15, 2021) The Gulf Coast Health Sciences Corridor coalition, led by the New Orleans BioInnovation Center (NOBIC) in partnership with the Baton Rouge Health District, was named by the Economic Development Administration (EDA) as a finalist in the $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge. The coalition will advance to Phase II and compete for up to $100 million in American Rescue Plan funding to develop and scale the health sciences industry in Southeast Louisiana.

The Build Back Better Regional Challenge assists communities nationwide in their efforts to build back better by accelerating the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and building local economies that will be resilient to future economic shocks. The challenge is the largest economic development initiative from the U.S. Department of Commerce in decades.

“This Phase 1 award is a tremendous milestone in the expansion of key infrastructure developments in South Louisiana. These projects are intended to tackle our community’s toughest problems through innovation and economic expansion, while driving growth in the Baton Rouge and New Orleans Super Region. Our coalition of leading academic research institutions, health care systems, economic development organizations, nonprofits, and businesses are working together to further strengthen Louisiana as a hub for innovation and growth in health sciences,” stated Executive Director of the New Orleans BioInnovation Center, Kris Khalil.  Khalil continued, “Louisiana has a legacy of a strong health care sector combined with cutting-edge academic research. We look forward to the opportunity to accelerate our momentum through health care innovation and biotechnology commercialization.”

“By awarding our state two of the 60 Build Back Better Challenge grants announced today, President Biden and Secretary of Commerce Raimondo are casting a significant vote of confidence in Louisiana’s ongoing clean energy and bioscience innovation efforts,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “The Greater New Orleans Development Foundation’s proposed green hydrogen energy cluster in South Louisiana would move us closer to our goal of net zero emissions by 2050. The Gulf Coast Health Sciences Corridor, led by the New Orleans BioInnovation Center, would accelerate the growth of Louisiana’s robust life sciences sector. Both projects would create new jobs, stimulate the regional economy, improve the well-being of our communities, and increase opportunities in underserved communities. We look forward to working with our regional and local partners to move these projects forward and make these economic visions a reality,” he concluded.

NOBIC is part of a regional coalition of stakeholders from government, business, nonprofits and academia. As a finalist, the coalition was awarded $500,000 to develop a plan to transform the region into a national leader in health sciences. The coalition has committed to a focus on addressing acute, infectious, and chronic disease by creating economic opportunity through specialized workforce development with a focus on women, residents in rural areas, and people of color. Further, the coalition intends on strengthening the regions’ research development and commercialization pipeline through new infrastructure and collaborative efforts to leverage industry expertise and promote startup creation and investment. The coalition believes that a strategic investment in South Louisiana’s health services industry cluster will help to create a resilient and equitable regional economy and mitigate certain state health disparities.

“We are very excited about the collaborative opportunities this initiative will bring across the South Louisiana region and the synergy it will create between Baton Rouge and New Orleans – the partner hub cities of our Health Sciences Corridor,” said Executive Director of the Baton Rouge Health District, Steven Ceulemans. “The growth of the corridor will continue to cultivate our region as a destination for care and innovation, enhanced with unique assets such as the exciting new Center for Innovation in Implementation Science at Pennington Biomedical Research Center.”

“For nearly two decades, our region has laid the foundation for a health sciences cluster that both creates jobs and improves health outcomes for our people,” said Chair of the BioDistrict Board of Directors and President and CEO of the Greater New Orleans Foundation (GNOF), Andy Kopplin. “Through the long-term commitment of philanthropy, to the investments of our business community in creating a favorable business climate, to the steadfast support of local and state leaders, a health sciences cluster is evolving. This Phase 1 grant will turbocharge our existing efforts and position our region to realize the vision held by so many,” Kopplin stated.

Additional coalition members that are well aligned to support cluster-based economic development include the GNOF, Greater New Orleans, Inc., LSU Health New Orleans, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Tulane University, Xavier University of Louisiana and Delgado Community College. Additional coalition partners include Baton Rouge Area Chamber, Baton Rouge Area Foundation, Ochsner Health, LCMC, and more.

“Louisiana’s outstanding showing in the Build Back Better Challenge is a testament to the strength of our economic development partnerships across the state,” LED Secretary Don Pierson said. “A broad coalition of stakeholders came together to create visionary plans for enhancing our state’s energy and life sciences sectors through innovative programming with an equity focus. I believe the outcomes resulting from this award would generate transformative economic development for the region, the state, and the greater Gulf South.”

“The Build Back Better Regional Challenge aims to supercharge local economies and increase American competitiveness around the globe,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “The outpouring of interest in this program shows the demand for the Build Back Better agenda and the desire to not only create good-paying jobs, but also strengthen our country’s economic resiliency for years down the road.”

EDA received 529 applications from regions in all 50 states and five territories, and the 60 finalists represent regions that formed extraordinary coalitions, demonstrated regional needs, and presented bold proposals to grow their target industry clusters. Ranging from rural communities and coastal towns to major metros, the finalists make up a diverse cross-section of the United States.

Phase 1 of the Build Back Better Regional Challenge invited coalitions to apply for funding to implement a collection of three to eight distinct but related projects in their region. Projects needed to be in coordination with industry and community partners and aligned around a holistic vision to build and scale a strategic industry sector.

In Phase 2, finalists will compete for significant implementation assistance. EDA will award 20 to30 coalitions each up to $100 million. These awards will assist communities in executing ambitious plans to supercharge their regional economies across a variety of strategic growth sectors. The deadline for Phase 2 applications is March 15, 2022.

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About the New Orleans BioInnovation Center
The New Orleans BioInnovation Center is a private, not-for-profit business incubator, supporting entrepreneurship and dedicated to the development of bioscience innovation throughout Louisiana. The Center works directly with entrepreneurs and researchers to commercialize new technologies spinning out of Louisiana universities and healthcare institutions, as well as those developed by independent innovators, to start and scale new globally competitive life science companies.