November 22, 2016

LCMI Partners Receive Grants; Awaiting Decision on More

BATON ROUGE, La. – A year after receiving a special nod from the federal government, the Louisiana Chemical Manufacturing Initiative (LCMI) has made great strides. It’s scored several high-dollar grants, recruited additional industry partners and it hosted its first annual conference as part of its mission to advance chemical manufacturing in the state.

And it’s just the beginning, says Rebecca Harris, who manages the LCMI initiative for the LSU College of Engineering’s Bert S. Turner Department of Construction Management.

“Within the next year, we hope to help more partners secure federal funding,” she explained, “and build broader collaborative project teams.”

The initiative began in July 2015, when the federal government designated the Louisiana Chemical Corridor – a 200-mile stretch of manufacturing facilities and refineries between Lake Charles and New Orleans – as one of 12 manufacturing communities under the “Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership” (IMCP) initiative. As a result, LSU spearheaded a collaborative effort to create LCMI.

LCMI’s mission is to cultivate a nationally and internationally known chemical manufacturing community in Louisiana that positively impacts society and the environment. The Initiative aims to increase job growth, reduce waste and produce innovation through partnerships with experts in sustainability, and workforce and small business development. LCMI originally began with 83 partners, and seven new partners have since joined.

The designation has helped LCMI partners earn grants to realize its vision. These grants will go to projects which include:

  • The creation of a U.S. Department of Energy Industrial Assessment Center (IAC). The IAC will be one of 28 in the country. Its purpose is to teach engineering students to perform energy assessments on manufacturers ranging from small to medium in size. 
  • Manufacturing Extension Partnership of Louisiana Renewal for $3 million.
  • Highway and railroad projects to strengthen Louisiana’s infrastructure.

Furthermore, federal funding agencies are currently reviewing four more LCMI endorsed proposals, which the agencies will decide on by the end of the year. One proposal, which the U.S. Department of Commerce recently awarded, goes to the LSU Industrial Innovation Center to support advances in technology in the chemical manufacturing field.

While still in the beginning stages, Harris said LCMI is currently re-evaluating its strategy for partner engagement to ensure all partners are leveraging the designation for its purpose, Harris said.

One way LCMI engaged its partners and the general public is through its first annual conference.

LCMI held the conference in September to celebrate the organization’s one-year anniversary. The Conference hosted 140 attendees from varying industries. Thomas Yura, BASF Corporation executive vice president and general manager of the Geismar, Louisiana site was the keynote speaker. Yura discussed the essentials for building a strong and global chemical manufacturing community. He also challenged attendees to work together to enhance LCMI’s five core areas: infrastructure, workforce, supply network, international trade, and research and innovation.

The conference also included panels on the various opportunities and challenges the Louisiana chemical industry faces, as well as a panel on workforce and training. Industry leaders guided attendees through these discussions. In these talks, attendees and panelists discussed the challenges associated with Louisiana’s infrastructure, which include issues like roads that make it difficult to transport resources between plants, and possible solutions to these problems. They also discussed training needs, resources and strategies applicable to the chemical industry.

“It was noted at this conference, by a prominent individual from our industry, that the LCMI is bigger than the College of Engineering,” said Charles Berryman, construction management department chair at the LSU College of Engineering. “It has huge potentials for collaboration at many levels that will greatly enhance Louisiana’s economic development.”

Looking toward the future, Jonathan Shi, LSU College of Engineering Professor and holder of the Art E. Favre Endowed Chair in Industrial Construction, who was integral in obtaining the IMCP designation, hopes to further strengthen the existing collaboration with LCMI’s partners.

Currently, the group is reevaluating its strategy for partner engagement to ensure all partners are leveraging the designation for its purpose, he said, and he aims to use this collaboration to bring more resources into the Louisiana community to create a culture of sustainability in the state.

“I believe LCMI will be instrumental in bring diverse entities within government, industry, and academia together so they can work together to benefit the people within the great state of Louisiana,” Berryman said.

LCMI will apply for re-designation next spring.

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For more information, visit LCMI website, or contact Caroline Byrne at cbyrne4@lsu.edu or 225-578-4630.



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