Louisiana Targets Growth of Rural Small Businesses

BATON ROUGE — Twelve Louisiana companies are the inaugural participants in a program targeting business growth for rural Louisiana. The LED Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative launched this week via a partnership of Louisiana Economic Development and the Michigan-based Edward Lowe Foundation.

“Rural communities and businesses are critical to Louisiana’s economic recovery and resiliency in 2021 and beyond,” LED Secretary Don Pierson said. “While working diligently to assist and develop our rural communities and to attract new projects to rural Louisiana, LED also is innovating and investing in support of our rural businesses. We are investing and acting through our strong partnership with the Edward Lowe Foundation, a national best-in-class leader in entrepreneurial development. Our rural revitalization efforts will continue to lead to rural wins, and our LED programs will continue create a rural renaissance in Louisiana moving forward.”

The participating firms, located in all eight regions of the state, are considered second-stage businesses. Second-stage firms typically have 10 to 99 employees and are poised for further growth, often spurred by selling products and services in out-of-state markets and bringing new dollars back to their communities. Common issues for these businesses include building a management team, sustaining growth, and focusing on new opportunities, all of which can be challenging to accomplish in rural areas.

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“This initiative sparks exchanges that will spawn new ideas and solutions to common hurdles,” said Executive Director Pat Witty of LED Community Competitiveness and Small Business Services. “I am encouraged by the growing awareness of a great mutual benefit shared by small businesses and our rural communities. Our communities can sustain and grow as they support these second-stage companies, and companies can prosper where they are supported and appreciated.”

The program began this week with retreat-style meetings in a virtual setting. Using instruction and collaboration, the program seeks to understand specific challenges to growth and to identify solutions for scaling business growth. Each company will have the opportunity to participate in additional activities, including one-on-one strategic research engagements, with access to expert specialists who generate customized information aligned with company needs.

“We’re excited to partner with LED in this new initiative, which is a first-in-the-nation offering,” said Chairman and President Dan Wyant of the Edward Lowe Foundation. “The program is unique, in that it provides an integrated package of services – customized research, peer learning and leadership development – all intended to break down the walls that rural second-stage companies face. We expect to see the LED Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative accelerate growth for participating companies and provide a significant positive impact on their communities across rural Louisiana.”

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Businesses participating in the inaugural LED Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative include:

  • 3D Media (Thibodaux) – Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality training
  • BaumTech (Arabi) – ATM solutions provider
  • Carmichael’s Honey (New Iberia) – honey producer
  • Computer Sales and Services (Houma) – managed IT services
  • Ingalls Information Security (Woodworth) – cybersecurity
  • McGee Equipment Rental & Sales (Eunice) – equipment rental
  • Ouachita Biomass (Lillie) – wood products
  • Panola Pepper Corp. (Lake Providence) – food manufacturing
  • Pelican Defense Technologies (Ruston) – nanotechnology and computer systems design
  • Quality Engineering & Surveying (Port Vincent) – civil engineering and land surveying
  • Streamline Industries (Jeanerette) – specialized machining and equipment maintenance
  • Superior Woodwork and Trim (DeRidder) – custom commercial cabinet and countertop manufacturing

Upon evaluating the success of the pilot program, LED and the Edward Lowe Foundation hope to expand the initiative to more companies and communities in future years. For more information on the LED Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative, contact Christopher Cassagne, assistant director of Small Business Services, at (225) 3420-5882 or christopher.cassagne@la.gov.

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