Breaking ground for The Emerge Center at Innovation Park

It's ready, set, go for Innovation Park, LSU's dedicated complex for research commercialization. On Jan. 25, the Baton Rouge Speech and Hearing Foundation, or BRSHF, is breaking ground at the Park for its new facility that will be called The Emerge Center for Communication, Behavior and Development. The Emerge Center will offer clinically-effective therapies to children and adults with communication difficulties from the Greater Baton Rouge area and across Southern Louisiana, regardless of their ability to pay.

The Emerge Center - Groundbreaking Ceremony
Video: Groundbreaking Ceremony [32:14]

Video: Frank Bourgeois/LSU University Relations

Charles D'Agostino, executive director of LSU Innovation Park and the Louisiana Business and Technology Center, or LBTC, addressed the crowd to welcome the Emerge Center.

Hayes Howell, former BRSHF student, hugs Jamie Fletcher, mother of a current student at the center.

East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President  Melvin “Kip” Holden spoke glowingly of the Center’s impact on the community.

The Emerge Center for Communication, Behavior and Development is the first tenant to break ground at LSU’s Innovation Park.

Jamie Fletcher and her son, a current student at BRSHF, are excited about the new Emerge Center and its capacity to bring treatment to more children.
Photos: Jim Zietz/LSU University Relations

"We could not be more pleased and proud to welcome The Emerge Center as the first tenant to break ground at LSU's Innovation Park. Today is truly an historic moment for the entire university community and for the Baton Rouge Speech and Hearing Foundation as we celebrate the coming together of our respective, unique and world-class resources and talents," said LSU Interim Chancellor and System President William Jenkins. "In technology, research opportunities and facilities, our noble collaboration will benefit and serve so many both in Baton Rouge and far beyond its borders. We could not have asked for a better partner to make its permanent home at LSU Innovation Park and wish to congratulate them on this major milestone."
The park will help to ink the university to the community and to industry, commercialize LSU research, provide jobs for students, interns and the community and attract corporate partners for the university.

"Today is an exciting day for the LSU Innovation Park and the Emerge Center. This marks a great public private partnership where a private entity is working with the faculty and students at LSU in a state of the art training and research center," said Charles D'Agostino, executive director of LSU Innovation Park and the Louisiana Business and Technology Center, or LBTC. "This is the ideal 'First Building' at the Innovation Park, which sets the theme for the Park. The Emerge Center exemplifies the vision of LSU for developing a world class Innovation Park where the university and the private sector come together providing educational and research opportunities for LSU faculty and students to better serve the community."

In recent years, the demand for BRSHF's services has risen sharply. To meet the growing needs of the community, especially children with Autism, BRSHF launched a capital campaign in 2011 to increase access to its services.

To date, BRSHF has raised $6.4 million in donor pledges towards its $7 million campaign goal. Key campaign supporters include The Albemarle Foundation, The Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation, The Reilly Family Foundation, The Shaw Group, Inc., Bert and Sue Turner and The Huey and Angelina Wilson Foundation. In addition to this strong community support, in December 2012, BRSHF was able to secure new markets tax credits to assist in funding the project.

"We're excited to start construction on our project and we are very grateful to the many donors in this community who have made this milestone possible," said Melissa Juneau, Executive Director of BRSHF. 

BRSHF selected the LSU Innovation Park as the site for its new center because of the research-driven nature of its innovative therapies as well as the long-standing partnerships it enjoys with LSU faculty and student workers. Because the park is designated by Louisiana Economic Development as a qualified research park and by the federal government as a HUB zone, resident companies are eligible for numerous research and development tax incentives and credits, as well as other state incentive programs. Tenants also receive international trade assistance with training, translation services, marketing and logistics experts, among other outstanding services and benefits.

The Emerge Center, located at 7784 Innovation Park Dr. in Baton Rouge, will be 26,000 square feet, more than double the organization's current 50-old building on West Roosevelt Street. Coleman Partners Architects and Faulk and Meek General Contractors are project partners. The new center will enable the organization to greatly expand its services, including:

To better communicate the broad range of therapies it provides, BRSHF will change its name when The Emerge Center opens in mid-2014.

"We are very pleased with the significant progress we have made in our capital campaign. We are excited about The Emerge Center and the impact it will have on this community for many years to come," said Jean-Paul Perrault, President of BRSHF's Board of Directors.

BRSHF was founded in 1960 as a non-profit organization to help deaf and hearing impaired children. The BRSHF now offers one-on-one, early intervention treatment for Autism, group speech therapy in a year-round, preschool setting, occupational therapy and behavioral therapy for children and audiology services for all ages.

About Innovation Park

The mission of LSU Innovation Park is to facilitate technology transfer and commercialization of university research to stimulate and develop the economies of Louisiana and the local area.

With more than 600 people working on-site, the park generates more than $32 million in annual payroll and more than $70 million in purchasing power.

The park will help:

As the state's flagship university, research is a cornerstone of LSU. To further its commitment to innovation, the university began planning a dedicated complex for research commercialization in 2005. Located just five miles south of LSU's main campus, LSU Innovation Park provides faculty and students with a broader avenue for intellectual enrichment and technological discovery by partnering scientific investigation and business enterprise under one umbrella. By helping researchers bring new technology to market, LSU Innovation Park creates high-quality jobs, benefits the community, and enhances the image of Louisiana. With more than 200 acres, LSU Innovation Park has ample room for expansion. For more information, visit