Research Park Corp. braces for state budget cuts, considers downtown office / The Times Picayune

As Louisiana faces a state budget crisis, the Research Park Corporation is bracing for possible cuts to its own budget, a substantial amount of which comes from the state of Louisiana.

RPC’s executive committee began the process Thursday (Feb. 19) to continue its advocacy for new technology business ventures. While the committee voted not to hire an additional lobbyist to lobby on behalf of the organization during the upcoming legislative budget session, members discussed how they could make the best use of current lobbyists.

“We’re making sure that the resources that RPC already has stays in place,” committee chair Mike Moles said.

According to Moles, RPC receives about $1.2 million annually from the hotel/motel lodging tax that is allocated by the state.

Whether or not the two main projects under the RPC, business incubator Louisiana Technology Park and Innovation Catalyst, the venture capital arm of RPC, could see reductions from the budget, still remains unknown. However RPC says hiring an additional lobbyist is a preemptive action to secure RPC’s place in the state budget.

“We want to continue to be able to do things like the Re-LIFT fund,” Moles added, which funds faculty technology transfer projects at LSU with $125,000 annually.

RPC’s new CEO Byron Clayton said at Thursday’s meeting he’d like to move his office from the Tech Park on Florida Blvd. to downtown Baton Rouge.

After one month on the job, Clayton outlined his objectives for the RPC, one of which focuses on creating a more collaborative relationship with the Baton Rouge area community.

Clayton said because downtown has control centers such as the Louisiana Department of Economic Development, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber and IBM’s new 800-job services center which will open this year, he’d like to be in the mix.

“To me, it’s apparent that’s where I should be. It’s all about collaboration,” Clayton said.

The move, according to Moles and committee member Edmund Giering, would be the next step towards a years-long goal of creating a clear distinction between the RPC and Louisiana Technology Park.

“We want people to start to understand the separation,” Moles said, and what RPC does independent of any business conducted with the Tech Park.

Now that RPC has Clayton in place, he’ll be at the helm of instituting a new strategic framework for the organization. Clayton’s action items for 2015 include collaborating with other Baton Rouge area universities, business and community groups, and identifying a key role in expanding Baton Rouge Entrepreneurship Week 2015.

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