The Newtron Group donates to Water Campus Project
Baton Rouge – The Newtron Group and its founder Newton B. Thomas have committed $1.5 million to the Water Campus, ensuring that the 35-acre development is built to the highest standards in the world for research facilities.
Located on riverfront land in downtown Baton Rouge, the Water Campus will number among the best science campuses on the planet. It will furnish state-of-the-art laboratories and research space where scientists work to solve a truly existential problem: How will humans adapt to climate change, rising seas, and flooding coast lands where more than 3 billion people have built their homes and businesses?
Thomas understands, firsthand, the present danger to coastal communities. His father’s birthplace Port Eads, Louisiana, was one of the state’s vulnerable communities that has already disappeared, washed into the Gulf of Mexico because of coastal erosion and rising sea levels.
Thomas has personally witnessed the effects of coastal erosion in his lifelong experiences fishing and hunting on the Louisiana coast. According to the most commonly cited measurement, Louisiana loses an area of land equivalent to a football field every 100 minutes.
Responding to the monumental crisis, the Baton Rouge Area Foundation teamed with political leaders and coastal scientists to create The Water Institute after Hurricane Katrina. Then the Foundation and its real estate division, Commercial Properties Realty Trust, began building the Water Campus to be a place where scientists and engineers could mingle with each other in the workplace, finding solutions together that might elude them if they only worked in isolation.
The dock and its landing is one of the most important spots on the 35-acre campus. Scientists will congregate there to share their research and ideas and it will be preserved as a public gathering space, among only a few on the riverside of the levee.
To honor the contribution, the Baton Rouge Area Foundation will emboss company founder Newton B. Thomas’ name on the landing for the old city dock, which will connect to the centerpiece for the Campus – the headquarters of The Water Institute of the Gulf.
The Newtron Group and its subsidiary Triad Electric & Controls are among the largest industrial contractors on the Gulf Coast with offices in Baton Rouge, Lake Charles, Beaumont, Houston and Martinez, California. Thomas and the company care deeply for Louisiana and the other places where they operate.
“His company and his employees have quietly contributed millions over the decades to make lives better in their home city and across the southeast,” said John G. Davies, president and CEO of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation. “Their commitment to the Water Campus will help us build a place that is as remarkable as the research that is taking place there.”
The Campus will be more than 1.5 million square feet when completed over a decade. The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and the LSU Center for River Studies are the first two tenants. The Water Institute will locate to the Campus early next year.
At least two more buildings are scheduled to begin construction next year.