Conference focuses on business trends, policies

Entrepreneurs, policymakers and academicians will discuss policies, business trends and strategies for success from June 19-21 at the EDA University Center for Economic Development’s first Economic Development Conference, on the Baton Rouge campus of Southern University.

The conference theme is “Advancing Entrepreneurship and Innovation.” The registration deadline is June 11.

Keynote speakers and panelists include John Butler, director of the Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Texas; Don Cravins Jr., chief of staff for Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La.; Quentin Messer Jr., assistant secretary for Louisiana Economic Development; Ralph Christy, professor of marketing management and economic development at Cornell University; and Kenneth Robinson, community development specialist and associate professor at Clemson University.

Topics include drivers in economic development and economic development as it relates to energy; entrepreneurship; emerging markets; education; creating opportunities; and funding.

The conference also will look at leaders who have successfully adapted to the changing global business environment and the tools and relationships needed to drive sustainable economic growth.

Ernie Hughes, director of economic development, Southern University System Office, said the conference is one of the first projects for the EDA University Center.

Southern established the center using a five-year, $500,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, Hughes said. Southern may be the only historically black college in the country to be designated an EDA Center; the center’s goal is to accelerate regional business expansion.

The center also has a training arm on economic and small-business development, said Hughes, who also serves as associate chairman of the conference.

The EDA grant followed a $1 million construction grant Southern is using to create a business incubator and conference room next to the Louisiana Small Business Development Center on campus.

“This whole project will allow us to do a whole lot of good for the larger Baton Rouge community and the state of Louisiana, where you’re actually leveraging those federal funds to 1) provide the business incubator and the technical assistance and 2) providing resources and training,” Hughes said.

To register for the conference, visit www.subruniversitycenter.org. The cost for the three-day conference is $75 per person. For inquiries and sponsorships, email info@subruniversity center.org or call the College of Business at (225) 771-5640.