Louisiana's Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative Supports Small Businesses in Overcoming Challenges
Louisiana Economic Development (LED) has chosen nine small businesses from across the state to take part in the third annual Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative. This program, conducted in collaboration with the Edward Lowe Foundation, focuses on helping local companies overcome challenges that are specific to rural communities.
The selected businesses are considered second-stage companies, typically having 10 to 99 employees and positioned for further growth, often by expanding into out-of-state markets. The initiative aims to address common issues faced by small businesses while magnifying the unique challenges faced in rural areas. These challenges include identifying new opportunities, sustaining growth, expanding teams, and implementing effective digital marketing strategies.
LED Secretary Don Pierson emphasized the importance of supporting rural communities and enhancing business resources. Pierson stated, "Rural small businesses are key to expanding and diversifying the state's economy, and this initiative provides a spark for rural economic growth."
The participating businesses for the 2023 Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative are as follows: Bentz Construction Group, LLC (West Monroe), Finding Solace (West Monroe), GATR Coolers (Thibodaux), MOR Logistics & Environmental Services (Houma), Professional Engineering and Environmental Consultants, Inc. (Robert), Sawyer Industrial Plastics Inc. (West Monroe), SBC Lights (Benton), Stric-Lan Companies (Duson), and SSE Steel Fabrication (St. Bernard).
The program begins with a three-day retreat, followed by monthly virtual roundtables facilitated by professionals. Participants also have access to LED's System for Integrated Growth, which offers one-on-one guidance from expert specialists tailored to the specific needs of each company. The initiative concludes with a final meeting where participants present their business goals and plans.
Patrick Witty, LED Small Business and Community Services Director, highlighted the peer-to-peer learning aspect of the Rural Initiative. He expressed confidence in the selected business leaders and their potential impact on their communities and the state's economy.
Upon completion of the program, the participating companies become members of the LED Growth Network, an alumni group consisting of over 630 companies that generate nearly $4 billion in annual sales and employ more than 21,700 full-time equivalent employees.
Edward Lowe Foundation Chairman and President Dan Wyant commended LED's commitment to second-stage companies in rural Louisiana, emphasizing the importance of accelerating the growth of these businesses. LED and the Edward Lowe Foundation aim to expand the initiative to include more companies and communities in the coming years, further supporting rural entrepreneurship and economic development in Louisiana.