Beauregard Education Link
History of the Beauregard Education Link
In 2008, The City of DeRidder partnered with the Greater Beauregard Chamber of Commerce, the Beauregard Parish School Board, McNeese State University, Sowela Technical Community College, LTC Lamar Salter, Upper Iowa University, and the SWLA Economic Development Alliance, to create the Beauregard Education Link.
The purpose of creating the Beauregard Education Link was to promote post-secondary educational opportunities as well as adult leisure learning in Beauregard Parish. The coalition of educators, government entities, businesses and foundations saw the importance of providing leadership and resources through a collective effort in order to advance educational opportunities in our area. They recognized the multitude of economic, social, environmental, and cultural benefits that are created when education is made a community priority.
Education is a combatant against poverty, a mechanism for coping with the rising cost of living, an incentive for keeping our youth at home, and is certainly an investment in our economic future.
In 2008, the State of Louisiana identified workforce development as the central necessity for progress in the state. Governor Bobby Jindal acknowledged that our social and economic future was dependent upon the training we provide today. Fast-forward to 2014, training a skilled workforce is not only a necessity – it is a critical issue. Our region, has announced more than $65 Billion in capital investment projects and that number continues to grow daily. The role of the Beauregard Education Link is more important now than ever! The Beauregard Education Link has a jump start and is making progress.
The Beauregard Education Link is housed in the historic First Street School in DeRidder, LA. The First Street School was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on January 19, 1998. Located in downtown DeRidder on the corner of First and Pine Streets, the building is a two-story school enclosing approximately 58,500 square feet of space. The main classroom wing was constructed in 1939-1940 as a W.P.A. project. Design Architect was Max Heinberg of Alexandria, LA. The 1,100 seat auditorium and a second classroom addition were added in 1949, designed by the same architect. The building was used as a school facility until the 1980’s. The Beauregard Parish School Board partially occupied the ground floor for storage and some administrative functions until they deemed the property no longer necessary and abandoned it in 2013.
Through a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement the City of DeRidder purchased the property from the Beauregard Parish School Board in April of 2013. The city currently leases out the property to businesses and agencies that contribute to the overall vision of the program. Current occupants are: the Adult Education/GED program offered by the SWLA Literacy Council, college classes offered by Upper Iowa University, McNeese State University Leisure Learning, Artemis Advantage- our very first business incubator, and a satellite office for the SWLA Economic Development Alliance.
The Beauregard Education Link focuses on education, workforce development, and economic development. The Beauregard Parish Workforce Task Force is currently working with the SWLA Economic Development Alliance to identify new training programs needed to support the current demand. Sowela Technical Community College and Northwestern State University are currently exploring avenues to expand their course offerings in DeRidder. We are committed to partner with other entities to train a skilled workforce necessary to support the economic boom that our region is currently experiencing. The Beauregard Education Link has established itself as a viable program and has proved to be critically important moving forward.