Regions Foundation Grants to Support Louisiana Small-Business Ecosystem

NEW ORLEANS (press release) –The Regions Foundation, a nonprofit funded primarily by Regions Bank, on Thursday announced major grant funding to support small-business growth in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. The grants include:

  • $100,000 from the Regions Foundation to help fund a collaboration between the Propeller, Thrive NOLA and Fund 17 organizations. Together, these nonprofits are dedicated to growing and supporting entrepreneurs in New Orleans while addressing social and environmental disparities. The result is a more level playing field for more businesses to compete, grow, and thrive.
  • $65,000 from the Regions Foundation for the Small Business Mastermind program supporting entrepreneurs in Baton Rouge. This initiative led by the Louisiana Small Business Development Center provides a collaborative space for business owners spanning various industries to convene, share ideas, and develop innovative strategies for overcoming challenges and fostering business growth.

“Small businesses are the economic heartbeat of our communities, and when we invest in their success, we’re investing in a stronger economy and quality of life, benefiting people across the region,” said Marta Self, executive director of the Regions Foundation. “The message to entrepreneurs is there are people and organizations eager to invest in your success. These nonprofits are committed to helping business owners overcome obstacles and turn their vision for a thriving company into reality. We are proud at the Regions Foundation to support their work in creating more inclusive prosperity.”

A Closer Look – Propeller, Thrive NOLA and Fund 17:

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This collaborative initiative aims to address the specific needs of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) small-business owners who have historically faced more limited access to capital needed for business growth. Through technical assistance and support from local lenders, the organizations will help entrepreneurs navigate the hurdles of accessing capital and improve their chances of success.

“We are fostering an innovative New Orleans entrepreneurship ecosystem initiative called the Financial Wellness Collaborative. Since launching, we have collectively served 385 entrepreneurs,” said Andrea Chen, co-CEO of Propeller. “Together, we have been able to do more than one organization can do alone.”

“Teamwork makes the dream work. Not only are we working as a collective to empower entrepreneurs, but we also have supporters like the Regions Foundation that help foster a more inclusive and prosperous future in our community,” added Jess Allen, co-CEO of Propeller.

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The $100,000 grant from the Regions Foundation will support a range of activities designed to help entrepreneurs access capital, including tax filing and preparation, business certifications, QuickBooks training, credit building and counseling, financial and managerial accounting, debt preparedness and management, and preparation of loan packages.

“We believe in the power of partnership,” said Chuck Morse, executive director of Thrive New Orleans. “Working together, we can create a thriving environment where every entrepreneur has the opportunity to flourish. We are immensely proud to be a catalyst that helps small businesses access the capital they need to turn their dreams into reality.”

The effort between Propeller, Thrive NOLA, Fund 17, and the Regions Foundation underscores a shared commitment to building a more equitable and prosperous future for New Orleans and its residents.

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“This collaboration has been a true sense of developing and supporting across the technical assistance ecosystem. We’ve seen the work from each organization build upon itself as we have all experienced recurring workshop attendees,” said Veranisha Thompson, Fund 17’s executive director. “This model is what effective community partners look like when leveraging our respective resources and programmatic strengths.”

The grant was presented during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW), an annual event that brings together business leaders, aspiring entrepreneurs, investors, and other thought leaders to celebrate innovation, technology, entrepreneurship, and culture.

A Closer Look – Small Business Mastermind, Baton Rouge:

The $65,000 in funding from the Regions Foundation for Small Business Mastermind represents the next step in the foundation’s work with the Louisiana Small Business Development Center.

Beginning in 2020, the foundation allocated funding to the SBDC to help small businesses. At the time, the COVID-19 pandemic was unfolding, and the SBDC was meeting urgent needs helping local companies respond.

Now, the relationship between the foundation and the SBDC is evolving to support the Small Business Mastermind program for qualified companies around Louisiana’s capital city. This exclusive and immersive program is tailored for small-business owners who have at least one year of company operation and who meet a minimum threshold of annual sales. Over the course of 10 sessions, participants will unite to address challenges collectively and outline actionable steps forward in expanding their companies.

“This initiative is a source of advice, guidance, networking, and resources,” said Amy Province, Baton Rouge market executive for Regions Bank, who attended the program’s kickoff event. “By investing in initiatives like Small Business Mastermind, our colleagues at the Regions Foundation continue to champion entrepreneurship and economic empowerment across Louisiana.”

The program offers participants access to expert facilitation, monthly sessions, and a close-knit, business-minded community that is driven by seeing entrepreneurs succeed.

“We extend our sincere gratitude for the generous support provided by the Regions Foundation, which is vital in facilitating the Small Business Mastermind program,” said Heidi Melancon, assistant state director of the Louisiana Small Business Development Center. “This contribution helps advance our mission to foster the growth and development of small businesses, thereby enriching our local community and economy.”

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