BATON ROUGE, La. — Today, Louisiana Economic Development announced the formal launch of Louisiana Business Connection, a new website helping small businesses and large projects make valuable connections in Louisiana. At the site – LouisianaBusinessConnection.com – large and small businesses operating in Louisiana may register at no cost and discover contract opportunities. The platform enhances opportunities for disadvantaged business enterprises owned by minorities, women and veterans to secure work with prime contractors and large industrial operations in the state.
Following beta testing in the state’s Southwest Region, Louisiana Business Connection now functions statewide and is open to all Louisiana businesses. To date, Louisiana Business Connection has attracted 54 prime contractors and 322 small business vendors seeking to pre-qualify and secure business with major industries and construction contractors.
“It has been a priority of this administration to support and strengthen Louisiana’s small business community while continuing to attract large economic drivers,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “Louisiana Business Connection helps us pursue that goal by providing our large industrial projects with an accessible tool for further investing in our communities and for contracting with Louisiana’s small businesses. Fostering stronger bonds between large projects and small businesses helps to keep large industrial expenditures within state borders while resulting in new employment opportunities for our people as our small businesses ink new contracts.”
Louisiana Business Connection is a companion of LED’s Louisiana Job Connection, a free online platform that connects job seekers with employment opportunities by digitally matching applicant skills with company needs. Since its 2014 launch, Louisiana Job Connection has created more than 3.8 million matches between Louisiana job seekers and employers. Companies participating on Louisiana Job Connection may extend their current profile to Louisiana Business Connection.
“We looked at the industrial renaissance underway in Louisiana, and we knew we could not let this opportunity pass,” LED Secretary Don Pierson said. “We’re talking about a historic opportunity of more than $165 billion in newly announced industrial projects in our state this decade. With the success of Louisiana Job Connection, we sought a comparable tool to generate connections between economic driver companies and Louisiana small businesses. Thus, Louisiana Business Connection was born to help us harness this historic growth. We truly encourage every Louisiana business to invest a short amount of time to register. That modest amount of effort could pay big dividends over time on both ends of the business equation.”
Upon completing the free registration, the matchmaking portion of the process begins. Small businesses are asked to create a profile showcasing capabilities, insurance coverage, safety ratings, certifications and additional information necessary to be matched with prime contractors. Contractors are asked to create a profile describing the specific requirements of projects for which Louisiana small businesses may qualify.
At the end of the registration process, the matching process begins and a list of small businesses tailored to the project’s needs will be generated instantly. Large businesses can review the matching small business profiles, and matches can be contacted immediately or saved for future outreach.
“Companies like ours that have government contracts are most often required to have a plan in place that designates a percentage of their business to be conducted with small and disadvantaged businesses,” said Arch Chemicals Plant Manager Mark Kern, whose Lake Charles plant averages more than $500,000 annually in contracts with small firms. “We’re striving to improve that performance because small businesses can often provide a premium value to us.”
“Louisiana Business Connection facilitates engagement with small businesses by helping identify potential suppliers and subcontractors quickly and easily,” said CB&I Vice President Lisa Haley, who oversees Corporate Supply Chain and Global Supply Chain functions for the company. “A greater selection of small businesses offers new possibilities for collaboration and for identifying the right company for the right scope of work. Louisiana Business Connection has the potential to direct CB&I to qualified companies who understand the local market and can respond efficiently to our project needs.”
For small businesses, resources and training opportunities are offered throughout the site to maximize small business capabilities and to better understand the needs of prime contractors. Additionally, a checklist is offered to ensure small businesses make the appropriate eligibility-status declarations to increase the likelihood of matching with major projects.
“That, in a nutshell, is why we created Louisiana Business Connection,” said Executive Director Paul Helton of LED FastStart®, the state agency’s workforce solutions program that encompasses both Louisiana Job Connection and Louisiana Business Connection. “Louisiana Business Connection is a pre-qualification tool. It doesn’t replace the federal and state procurement programs that already exist. It turbocharges them.”
In 2016 and early 2017, LED joined the U.S. Department of Energy, regional economic development partners and local companies to pilot Louisiana Business Connection. The partners selected Louisiana’s Southwest Region to launch the pilot program because of the billions in new project dollars being invested in the region. The high volume of industrial construction and production there provides prime territory for the intersection of small businesses with new contract opportunities.
Now, those opportunities are available statewide.
“The Louisiana Business Connection platform is a great tool and invaluable resource, as it gives accessibility and exposure to opportunities for growth, networking and business expansion across Louisiana,” said CEO Lakeisha Robichaux of Chief of Minds, a Baton Rouge-based human resources consulting firm. “I am excited about the potential partnerships and look forward to seeing other businesses take advantage of this added resource.”
About Louisiana Business Connection
Louisiana Business Connection is designed to connect major business projects with disadvantaged business enterprises – minority-owned businesses, woman-owned businesses and veteran-owned businesses – and the other small businesses of Louisiana to promote growth and inclusiveness in the state. To start matching with other Louisiana businesses, visit LouisianaJobConnection.com.