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By the Numbers: Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) Sponsored by LAIAAugust 2022
LNG Center of Excellence at McNeese to Break Ground Later this Year
by Angie Kay Dilmore
As the largest exporter of liquified natural gas in the country, it makes sense that Southwest Louisiana should expand its role as America’s LNG industry leader. Back in mid-2020, industry maverick and director of Lake Area Industry Alliance Jim Rock met with McNeese State University president, Dr. Daryl Burckel, and several science and engineering professors to discuss how the SWLA community might best meet the needs of our burgeoning LNG industry. They set in motion the beginnings of the LNG Center of Excellence at McNeese. This Center, slated to open in the first quarter of 2024, will put our region on the global LNG map not only for its energy contributions, but for its academic significance, as well.
In January 2022, the planning team brought in well-known industry consultant Jason French to lead the Center as Executive Director. French says it all began in 2020 with a $2.8 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce and was initially envisioned as a tool for workforce development/training of existing LNG facility employees and to offer opportunities for students to train in the industry. Since then, the concept has grown to become a collaborative center for universities across the Gulf Coast.
“It will be physically based on the McNeese campus, but the Center is like a three-legged stool,” says French. “The Center will serve as a facility to train students and employees at existing plants, and as a repository for best industry practices and research. We are pursuing collaboration with universities across the Gulf Coast and seeking federal dollars for research. And finally, we want to establish Southwest Louisiana and McNeese as a key thought leader in LNG.”
French says this is an important second chapter for this region. “Thus far, we have seen massive capital investments and great corporate partners emerge. The Center will now help the community take advantage of what LNG has brought to the area, especially in opportunities for job training and industry careers.”
The LNG Center of Excellence at McNeese will be located on Sale St. near the previous location of JD Bank at a cost of $14 million for construction alone.
Fundraising efforts are underway. The plan is to break ground by the end of this year. Meanwhile, the Center will work to identify programming, mentorship and scholarship opportunities, and to shine a light on what the Center is doing to benefit Southwest Louisiana. Stay tuned for future updates!