Plans for veterans’ health-care clinics in Lake Charles and Lafayette are getting closer to fruition.

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs last week issued updates on the projects, which are linked to the Alexandria Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center. The Lafayette facility will be expanded while a new clinic will be added in Lake Charles.

In Lafayette, the center is reviewing proposals for the property. Center staff are reviewing floor plans and negotiations over the price are expected to last about 30 to 45 days. The center will then draft a lease contract, a process to take about 30 days.

In Lake Charles, primary care and mental-health components of the building have already been negotiated. The center hopes to finalize drawings before contract negotiations can begin. After a price is negotiated and agreed to, an appraisal of the property is required and a review of the settlement is held, which could take up to 50 days.

“We are making progress to ensure veterans across South Louisiana receive the care they deserve,” U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, said in a statement. “This announcement is welcome news for veterans and their families throughout South Louisiana.”

Government gives DED money

The U.S. Treasury last week approved $13.2 million for Louisiana’s Department of Economic Development aimed at spurring small business lending and creating jobs.

The State Small Business Credit Initiative, known as SSBCI, was signed into law as part of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010. The money provided federal funding for state small business programs, including Capital Access Programs and collateral support and loan guarantee programs, including those targeted at rural and agricultural small businesses.

“With these funds, Louisiana Economic Development will continue to support the Louisiana Small Business Loan Guarantee Program and the Louisiana Seed Capital Programs,” U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said in a statement.

“I am pleased the U.S. Treasury Department approved Louisiana’s application to participate in the State Small Business Credit Initiative. We are giving these two vital programs the avenue to continue their mission to spur jobs and increase small business lending,” added Landrieu, chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

Under the SSBCI, states are required to use federal funds for programs that help private lenders to extend more credit to small businesses and that support at least $10 in new lending for every $1 in federal funding.

Funds for coastal project

The U.S. Interior Department recently released $480,000 for Louisiana coastal restoration projects.

The two grants were for the Coastal Impact Assistance Program. Created by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, CIAP receives $1 billion from the federal government over four years to be shared by the six Outer Continental Shelf states to conserve and protect coastal environments.

The Louisiana grants will fund beach and dune restoration planning along West Caminada Headland in Lafourche Parish and a shoreline protection and marsh creation plan at Tiger Point in Vermilion Parish.

The grants were announced by the department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement, called BOEMRE.

“BOEMRE is committed to continuing our support of Louisiana’s vital coastal restoration and preservation efforts,” BOEMRE Director Michael Bromwich said in a statement.

Garret Graves, chair of the state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, said the money is critical to the state’s coastal restoration efforts.

“The Caminada Headlands, on the southern border of Lafourche and Jefferson Parishes west of Grand Isle, has experienced one of the highest rates of land loss in the nation,” Graves said in a statement.

“This coastal area provides an important buffer between the Gulf of Mexico and critical energy and maritime infrastructure at Port Fourchon while serving as one of the Gulf’s most productive nurseries for red fish, speckled

trout and other fish,” Graves

said.

Last month, BOEMRE released $832,000 in grants for Plaquemines, Iberia and Cameron Parish projects.

Compiled by Gerard Shields chief of The Advocate’s Washington bureau. His email is GerardShields@theadvocate.com.