BATON ROUGE, La. — The first class of military veterans in the Louisiana Veteran Entrepreneurship Program began coursework at the program’s inaugural boot camp today, with Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Joey Strickland, Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson and other officials welcoming them at the Louisiana Business & Technology Center in LSU Innovation Park.
Created this year, the LVEP program will enable service members leaving the military to gain intensive training in the initial boot camp, followed by long-term counseling from small business resource 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 19 veterans in the initial camp and an estimated 108 participants in its first year. Goals target at least 30 percent of the 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.
“The best thanks we can provide to Louisiana veterans who have given so much to our nation and our state is the promise of a better life for them and their families,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “As a veteran and small business owner myself, I know the sacrifices required for service to our country and the satisfaction that comes with success after service. This LVEP initiative combines many of our state partners in a powerful way to ensure that Louisiana veterans can achieve their dream of business ownership.”
Today’s boot camp culminates a three-week, online-learning process in which veterans have gained training in capital fundraising, banking, Small Business Administration loans, accounting systems, tax matters and business management skills. LVEP coursework, developed and delivered through the Louisiana Business & Technology Center and LSU Executive Education, outlines critical steps to start, operate, fund and launch a business, while giving veterans the tools needed to develop their business ideas.
LED is providing initial program funding for LVEP.
“The Louisiana Veteran Entrepreneurship Program recognizes so many important priorities in our work,” LED Secretary Don Pierson said. “As one of our nine key strategies at LED, we cultivate small business growth, innovation and entrepreneurship. To assist veterans in becoming successful entrepreneurs is indeed a great privilege for our department and our state.”
Following the completion of the LVEP pilot program with the initial class of veterans this fall, the program partners plan to add more classes for veterans in other parts of Louisiana in the coming months.
“We are pleased to be able to provide this for our veterans,” LSU President F. King Alexander said. “Our staff at the Louisiana Business & Technology Center and LSU Executive Education are excited to work with our veterans on business planning, marketing, financing, capital formation and other strategies that are key to operating a successful small business. This is just another way LSU supports the men and women who have chosen to serve our country.”
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. Both the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs and the Louisiana National Guard have played integral roles in establishing the Louisiana Veteran Entrepreneurship Program.
“It is the desire of this department that all of the men and women who served our great nation find meaningful work here in Louisiana,” LDVA Secretary Joey Strickland said. “We are grateful to all of our LVEP partners for making this business startup opportunity available to our veterans.”
The National Guard Transition Assistance Program is assisting 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 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 is an amazing opportunity for today’s National Guardsman, and I want to thank all of the partners of the Louisiana Veteran Entrepreneurship Program for making this happen,” said Maj. Gen. Glenn H. Curtis, Adjutant General of the Louisiana National Guard. “The connection between the veteran and their community is so very important, and this initiative demonstrates just how strong that bond is here in Louisiana.”
Veterans who would like to participate in the Louisiana Veteran Entrepreneurship Program may learn more at OpportunityLouisiana.com/LVEP.