BATON ROUGE, La. — Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards, Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson, Louisiana National Guard Adjutant Gen. Glenn Curtis and Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Joey Strickland announced the creation of the Louisiana Veteran Entrepreneurship Program to boost business opportunities for Louisiana veterans as they leave active duty. 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.
Developed through a partnership of LED, LDVA, the Louisiana National Guard, the Louisiana Business & Technology Center and LSU Executive Education, 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.
“As a veteran and small business owner, I’m proud to announce the launch of the Louisiana Veteran Entrepreneurship Program, which will help us connect a highly skilled veteran workforce with the specific training and resources needed to launch their own businesses,” Gov. Edwards said. “As these dedicated servants make the transition from U.S. military and Louisiana National Guard service, they do so with a wide array of skills, including leadership, strategic planning, contingency planning, creative problem-solving, risk management and task execution. These rank high among the traits required for owning and operating a business, and what better way to honor the service of our veterans than by positioning them for success in Louisiana’s business community.”
After an application and screening process, LVEP participants will begin with 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.
“The Louisiana Veteran Entrepreneurship Program will transform the skills that our veterans possess into the complete package they need to launch their own businesses and create their own jobs,” LED Secretary Pierson said. “As we honor veterans for their service, it’s our hope that these sessions, tools and resources will promote further self-sufficiency and lead to success in the business world for these dedicated patriots. As a veteran myself, it’s an honor for me as LED secretary to play a role in launching the program this Memorial Day.”
The Louisiana Business & Technology Center at LSU Innovation Park in Baton Rouge will deliver LVEP training in a curriculum designed by LSU Executive Education. Training will include business planning, marketing, financing, capital formation, securing a franchise, and other aspects of business development. In Baton Rouge, LBTC and LSU Executive Education will deliver training for the pilot program this summer and early fall, with additional program boot camps occurring in late 2017 and early 2018 in other parts of Louisiana that feature strong concentrations of veterans.
“This is LSU’s way of thanking our state’s military heroes for their service by helping them develop a second career after their military service,” said Executive Director Charles D’Agostino of the Louisiana Business & Technology Center. “The program will be conducted jointly by LBTC and LSU Executive Education of the E.J. Ourso College of Business. At the end of the boot camp, veterans will exit with a business plan, an implementation plan and introduction to potential investors and lenders to help them make their dream a reality.”
As LED and program partners implement LVEP during the initial year, they will evaluate progress and identify solutions for sustainable funding of the program in future years. Marketing for LVEP is underway, with the Louisiana National Guard leading recruitment among members exiting its ranks of 11,500 personnel and coordinating recruitment among veterans departing service in the U.S. military branches. Both the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs and the Louisiana National Guard have played integral roles in establishing the Louisiana Veteran Entrepreneurship Program.
“Louisiana’s veterans deserve our support,” LDVA Secretary Strickland said. “At the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs, we’re proud to partner with the Louisiana Veteran Entrepreneurship Program that will help both our Louisiana National Guard members and our state’s veterans obtain the skills needed to start their own businesses and become gainfully employed in their communities.”
The National Guard Transition Assistance Program will assist in marketing the new initiative to veterans and military personnel statewide through the program’s advisers and employment coordinators. Once veterans complete LVEP, they will be provided small business resources in their communities for followup support and small business counseling. Louisiana’s Small Business Development Centers, business incubators and other small business partners will be available for ongoing business coaching after completion of the boot camp.
“This program will undoubtedly be a valuable tool for our veterans as they move forward and work toward their own personal goals and objectives outside of military service,” said Maj. Gen. Curtis, Adjutant General of the Louisiana National Guard. “Being a member of the Armed Forces comes with its own set of unique challenges and hurdles, and as a soldier and a veteran I can tell you that I am proud to be part of something that's designed to help. I look forward to seeing the entrepreneurship program grow and am confident that many veterans will benefit as a result of this initiative.”
Veterans who would like to participate in the Louisiana Veteran Entrepreneurship Program may contact the Louisiana Business & Technology Center at (225) 578-7555 for application details.