Nicholls students assist economic development initiative

THIBODAUX – The classroom assignments of web writing students at Nicholls State University might lead to the recruitment of new industries to the Bayou Region.

Charles Gaiennie, communications director of the South Louisiana Economic Council, said Thursday that SLEC’s Web site – www.bayouregion.comnow offers detailed regional profiles of Assumption, Lafourche, St. Mary and Terrebonne Parishes, generated via original research and writing of Nicholls students. Out-of-state business leaders evaluating the Bayou Region for possible relocation can use these individualized profiles to make their decisions.

“In the wake of Katrina,” Gaiennie said, “SLEC wants to restore the Bayou Region. We must therefore define the unique characteristics of the region’s communities to recruit industries.”

Raceland differs from Thibodaux, for example, partly because of the intersection of highways and railroads, Gaiennie said. The student-generated profiles will allow decision-makers to take such criteria into account as they choose where to anchor their industries.

Localized versions of the profiles are slated to appear on the Assumption Parish Web site on Feb. 19 and the City of Thibodaux Web site some time before March, Gaiennie said.

Dr. Windy Rachal, assistant professor of languages and literature, directed much of the original research and writing in the spring of 2007.

“My web writing students gathered the data – from people in the communities, archives at the library and information from area grant writers – and wrote the first draft of the profiles,” Rachal said.

“Students did this project as a service learning opportunity and attended meetings with SLEC, grant writers and others involved in the economic development of the Bayou Region.”

Vic Lafont, executive director of SLEC, said the collaboration with Rachal and her students has proven successful.

“We have an incredible resource through Nicholls, and we always enjoy the opportunity to draw students into business projects like this one.”

In September 2007, SLEC presented the Department of Languages and Literature with a $2,500 donation for collaborative technologies that will assist future service learning projects with community organizations.

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