BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana Economic Development has expanded its successful CEO Roundtable program from New Orleans to Baton Rouge and Shreveport this year, and the peer-to-peer entrepreneur support program expects to reach even more business leaders across Louisiana in 2016.
Launched in 2014 to help established small businesses grow jobs and revenue, CEO Roundtables convene 15 to 18 qualified, key decision-makers from Louisiana-based small businesses 10 times over the course of a year for peer-to-peer learning, business networking and support. The collaborative, growth-oriented meetings support a trusting environment in which CEOs can safely explore business and personal issues.
LED Secretary Steven Grissom said, “The small business community is a cornerstone of Louisiana’s economy, and executive leadership is critical for companies to grow and prosper. Our CEO Roundtables bring together business leaders for a series of candid conversations about issues affecting them all, whatever their industry. The CEOs act as each other’s personal board of advisers, and participants emerge with new insights on management techniques to take back to their companies. We are happy to see the program expanding across Louisiana to help business leaders guide their companies toward greater success.”
Participants from companies in a range of industries come together in each session to discuss a designated topic that is determined by the desire and interests of the group. Participants in the inaugural CEO Roundtable in New Orleans represented biomedical, manufacturing, software development and other sectors, with the group able to address issues common to their vastly different businesses. Topics included marketing, strategic planning, operational efficiency, organizational structure, delegation and cyber security.
“As a small business owner I am constantly involved in the day-to-day operations of the company, with little time to keep up with the ever-changing technology and resources,” said Jill Foxworth, owner of Dependable Glass Works Inc. in Covington. “The New Orleans CEO Roundtable has given me exposure to how other small businesses are dealing with changing technology, finances and business issues. The greatest reward from the roundtable has been having a sounding board of peers to work with and help implement ideas in my day-to-day business.”
The CEO Roundtables build on the success of LED’s Economic Gardening Initiative, an intensive market research program for second-stage small businesses that demonstrate high-growth potential. A total of 121 companies from throughout Louisiana have participated in Economic Gardening since its inception in 2011, including 10 of 13 companies in the inaugural CEO Roundtable.
Roundtable participants typically operate high-growth companies with annual revenue of $600,000 to $50 million, employing from five to 99 employees. Each roundtable consists of 10 half-day sessions, moderated by a facilitator, over the course of a year. The discussion groups are structured to provide CEOs with timely advice to problems they are experiencing. The roundtable setting allows peer executives to share their company experiences openly so participants may learn from both their achievements and their mistakes.
Recent completion of the inaugural CEO Roundtable in New Orleans already has led to the creation of 36 new jobs. For the coming year, participants project an average revenue increase of over $2 million per company and the creation of 105 new jobs collectively, with an average salary of over $42,000.
The Louisiana chapter of Entrepreneurs’ Organization, or EO, partnered with LED in launching the initial roundtable in New Orleans. Many participants began to see the growth resulting from what they learned and implemented through the CEO Roundtable before the sessions had even been completed.
“My main takeaway was a firm commitment to delegating any and everything that I could,” said Thomas J. Brown, president of E-Claim.com LLC in Harvey. “This had a remarkable impact on my time, and left me with a much improved schedule and a team that appreciates the added responsibilities. Our sales and marketing pipeline has grown by 100 percent, because I am now able to commit most of my time in this area.”
After seeing the value of the inaugural CEO Roundtable in New Orleans, LED has expanded the reach of the initiative and is currently operating inaugural CEO Roundtables in Baton Rouge and Shreveport and another roundtable in New Orleans. With support from LED, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership of Louisiana, based in Lafayette, is launching a roundtable program specifically for CEOs of manufacturing companies. LED is also considering the addition of CEO Roundtables in other regions across the state.
The 2015 roundtables already are underway, and applications for the 2016 roundtables will be accepted beginning next February through the end of March. Due to limited capacity and high demand, eligibility does not guarantee acceptance into the program. For more information, contact Christopher Cassagne, business development officer for LED’s Small Business Services, at Christopher.Cassagne@la.gov or 225.342.5882.