LED Steps Up to Support Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs
State programs set the stage for Louisiana companies to grow and develop
Seeking new ways to develop and deliver impactful programs, LED honors the companies that go above and beyond and provide enhanced resources to businesses confronting special challenges. Programs like the Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative help businesses overcome obstacles unique to rural communities, while the Diversity in Entrepreneurship Initiative accelerates the growth of minority- and women-owned businesses.
10 Louisiana Businesses Participate in 2nd Annual Rural Entrepreneurship Program
Ten small businesses from across Louisiana were selected in May to participate in the second annual Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative. Program participants are considered second-stage businesses, which typically have 10 to 99 employees and are poised for further growth, often spurred by expansion to out-of-state markets. The initiative, conducted in partnership with the Edward Lowe Foundation, is designed to address issues that are common to all small businesses but often magnified in rural areas, such as targeting new opportunities, sustaining growth, expanding a team and marketing digitally.
The program includes an opening retreat, and three professionally facilitated virtual roundtables each month. Participants also have the opportunity to work with LED’s System for Integrated Growth, which provides one-on-one access to expert specialists who generate customized information aligned with specific company needs. The initiative closes with a final meeting featuring presentations from participants about business goals and plans.
Upon completion of the program, participating companies join the LED Growth Network, a statewide alumni group that consists of more than 550 companies generating nearly $4 billion in annual sales and employing more than 20,000 full-time equivalent employees.
The businesses selected to participate in the 2022 Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative were:
- Allen’s Electric Motor Service of Vivian
- Bayou Teche Brewing of Arnaudville
- The Original Zwolle Tamales of Zwolle
- Enviro Services Rental of Farmerville
- Geaux Above of Madisonville
- Henry’s Travel Plaza of Iowa
- JCM Greenhouse Manufacturing of Forest Hill
- R&H Quality Refractory Services of Westlake
- St. Charles Printing of Boutte
- Tarpan Construction of Cottonport
10 Companies Honored as 2022 Louisiana Growth Leaders
Ten companies from across the state were named Louisiana Growth Leaders at the 2022 Spotlight Louisiana event. Chosen by a statewide panel of business leaders and economic development experts, Louisiana Growth Leaders are not only successful business people, but they are also community leaders. Selection criteria include strategy, philanthropy, growth and innovation, and leadership.
2022’s Louisiana Growth Leaders included:
- Flexicrew Technical Services of Metairie; Brandon Smith, president
- NANO Architecture | Interiors of New Orleans; Terri Dreyer, managing partner
- Online Optimism of New Orleans; Flynn Zaiger, CEO
- Southern Scripts of Natchitoches; LeAnn Boyd, CEO and co-founder
- Southern Services & Equipment of St. Bernard; Mindy Airhart, president and CEO
- Thomas Pump & Machinery of Slidell; James Thomas, CEO
- Trigon Associates of New Orleans; Michelle Herbert, CEO
- Universal Data of New Orleans; Jim Perrier, president
- Utiliserve of Bossier City; Zach Raley, president and owner
- VPG Construction of Harvey; Michael Merideth, CEO
In addition to these honorees, one exceptional company received the Legend Award. This award is the LED Growth Network’s top honor, praising a past leader who has continued to succeed and grow. The 2022 Growth Leader Legend was Argent Financial Group, a Ruston-based independent wealth management firm.
Growth Leaders weren’t the only ones honored. Chairman and President Dan Wyant of the Michigan-based Edward Lowe Foundation presented LED with the first-ever Founder’s Award in honor of the late Edward Lowe, who created the foundation to champion entrepreneurship.
11 Louisiana Businesses Selected for 2022 Diversity in Entrepreneurship Initiative
Eleven Louisiana small businesses were chosen to participate in LED’s second annual Diversity in Entrepreneurship Initiative, a program focused on accelerating the growth of minority and women-owned businesses. Launched September 20-22, the LED Diversity in Entrepreneurship Initiative is a partnership between Louisiana Economic Development and the Michigan-based Edward Lowe Foundation.
Participating businesses are considered second-stage firms. These businesses have between 10 and 99 employees and are well-positioned for continued growth. Bringing new money back to their communities, many of these businesses sell products or services in out-of-state markets. They often have difficulties assembling a management team, sustaining growth, and looking ahead at new opportunities, but LED’s Diversity in Entrepreneurship Initiative is focused on changing that.
The program began with a three-day series of retreat-style virtual meetings, offering a blend of content, dialogue, strategic research, and peer learning. Afterward, each business participated in one-on-one strategic research meetings via the System for Integrated Growth. This phase gives participants access to specialists who can generate personalized information that aligns with company needs, helping all parties to understand and surmount the scaling challenges they face. In October, the groups reconvened for three peer roundtable meetings, sharing their experiences and knowledge.
Businesses participating in the 2022 LED Diversity in Entrepreneurship Initiative spanned from biotech and mental health to logistics and construction industries. Participants included:
- Brew Agency of Baton Rouge
- CALLS PLUS of Lafayette
- Demo Diva Demolition of New Orleans
- Elated Counseling Services of Shreveport
- Mobile X-Ray Service of Shreveport Bossier
- NRK Construction of Baton Rouge
- Obatala Sciences of New Orleans
- Quality First Marine of Covington
- ShredLink of Metairie
- TDS Trucking, Training, and Technology of Patterson
- White Glove Interior Care of Lafayette
Upon completion of the program, participating companies join the LED Growth Network.