The Advocate

The departure of Research Park Corp.’s top executive will be used to do a “deep dive” with stakeholders to look at Baton Rouge’s system for helping foster fledgling tech businesses, the organization’s executive committee chairman said Monday.

The opportunity is there to have a high-level discussion among the RPC, Louisiana Economic Development, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, LSU, Southern University and local business incubators to talk about how the system is set up and to see where there are opportunities to cooperate and collaborate, said Edmund Giering, who heads the executive committee.

Byron Clayton left the job at the end of 2017 to become head of the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute in Pittsburgh. Clayton, an economic development expert from Cleveland, took over as head of the RPC in January 2015.

During the process the RPC went through hiring Clayton, interviews were conducted with stakeholders about the direction of the organization and its strategic plan. Plans are to review those notes to look at the future direction of the organization, Giering said. “We know what’s out there, and this gives us an opportunity to look at a real deep dive into how the RPC fits in with all this,” he said.

The RPC is a nonprofit formed by the Legislature in the early 1990s to grow and diversify the innovation economy in Baton Rouge. The organization has three main components: the Louisiana Technology Park incubator for tech businesses on Florida Boulevard; Innovation Catalyst, which provides seed capital for early-stage businesses across the state; and NexusLA, an online portal which promotes regional collaboration and connects growth-focused companies to capital, resources and talent.

In the meantime, the executive committee Monday voted to hire Genevieve Silverman as interim executive director for up to six months and give her a temporary 25 percent boost in salary. Silverman, who has been with the RPC for the past 10 years, is head of NexusLA. The move will bump her annual salary up to $168,750.

Silverman thanked the executive committee for its vote of confidence and said she’s looking forward to building on programs she helped develop over the past few years, such as NexusLA.

“I’m ready for this position,” she said. “I have the background and the experience.”

Silverman’s new role will give the RPC board an opportunity to evaluate her abilities, Giering said.

“Genevieve is a long-term employee who has proven herself more than capable with financial matters,” he said “This will give us another look at her leadership skills and stakeholder management.”