Building Small Business
LED Launches Two New Incentive Programs
Long an advocate of Louisiana’s 400,000 small businesses, Louisiana Economic Development advanced that mission significantly in 2017 with new programs that elevate opportunity for disadvantaged small businesses and for veterans exiting military service.
Louisiana Business Connection links smaller firms with contract opportunities offered by the state’s largest industrial and construction operations.
The first — Louisiana Business Connection — links smaller firms with contract opportunities offered by the state’s largest industrial and construction operations. Both those business connections and new training offered by the Louisiana Veterans Entrepreneurship Program offer convenient online service, but they’re reinforced with stellar support from mentors in the state.
Louisiana Business Connection
Through 2016 and early 2017, LED FastStart® — the nation’s top-ranked state training program — piloted a new portal to connect small businesses with major vendor opportunities from Louisiana’s large industrial operations and the major contractors that build them. The online product, LouisianaBusinessConnection.com, is specially designed to bridge the gap between those contract opportunities and the state’s small businesses owned by minorities, women and veterans.
With that inclusive focus, Louisiana Business Connection extends to any Louisiana small business that registers online and creates a compelling profile to compete for major contract opportunities in the state. LED’s partners in the small business sector are helping spread information about the online site that already has drawn more than 800 registrants in its first few months.
“LED is committed to increasing opportunities for small business by connecting their capabilities with the needs of our larger businesses, new or expanding,” says LED Deputy Secretary Brad Lambert. “In addition, we have a good coalition of small business service-providers that are promoting the program. The Louisiana Small Business Development Center Network, Procurement Technical Assistance Centers and other key allies are committed to growing the list and are working to drive their clients to the website.”
Another innovative portal — LouisianaJobConnection.com — preceded Louisiana Business Connection with a matchmaking site linking job seekers anywhere to employment opportunities with expanding Louisiana employers. Since 2014, Louisiana Job Connection has produced approximately 4 million matches for 4,300 registered employers and over 80,000 job seekers.
Both portals are free, with the Louisiana Business Connection site providing small businesses the chance to list their certifications and pre-qualify for potential contract opportunities. Through an instant search, large businesses can generate a list of small firms that meet their project needs now or in the future. The website creates a dashboard for the potential opportunities and features a blog to foster small businesses growth.
“If needed, we are holding people’s hands every step of the way in the registration process,” says Jamie Nakamoto, LED FastStart’s business applications manager. “We help them make sure their profile has been optimized. We can advise on how to get certifications, offer suggestions on how to get more experience, and point them toward small business training and educational events.”
Louisiana Veteran Entrepreneurship Program
The state recently created the Louisiana Veteran Entrepreneurship Program, or LVEP, to boost business startup possibilities for Louisiana veterans as they leave active duty.
Two Louisiana native brothers with careers in both the military and public service founded The Oyster Bed.
LVEP’s focus is both short-term, with an intensive boot camp at the outset, and long-term, with ongoing counseling from small business partners. The effort is a multi-agency partnership that LED spearheaded; it includes the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs, the Louisiana National Guard, the Louisiana Business & Technology Center and the LSU Executive Education program within the university’s E.J. Ourso College of Business.
The in-depth program will help Louisiana connect a highly skilled veteran workforce with the specific training and resources needed to launch their own businesses. After an application and screening process, LVEP participants will begin a three-week, online-learning program, followed by a face-to-face training session. This intensive model will outline critical steps to start, operate, fund and launch a business while giving veterans the tools needed to develop their business ideas.
Upon completion of the program, participants will be connected to local mentors to increase the odds for success as veterans implement their business plans.
“LED is honored to work alongside great partners in providing assistance to our veterans. We honor their service and are excited about their contribution to growing our economy.” -Don Pierson, LED Secretary
Launched in late May, the program will train an estimated 108 participants in its first year. Goals target at least 30 percent of those participants launching a business and collectively raising at least $5 million in startup capital. A long-term goal for the program is to create 100 new jobs through newly formed businesses operated by LVEP-trained veterans.