BATON ROUGE, La. — Today, Louisiana Economic Development honored small business leaders from throughout the state for their success in LED’s Economic Gardening Initiative and CEO Roundtables, and for their graduation into the LED Growth Network. LED recognized leaders of about 300 second-stage companies in Louisiana at the inaugural Spotlight Louisiana reception.
At the event, the Michigan-based Edward Lowe Foundation recognized the LED Growth Network and its supporting programs as a national model for small business success.
LED’s Economic Gardening Initiative and CEO Roundtables are geared toward second-stage firms. Those small businesses have advanced beyond the startup stage but haven’t reached maturity. Because they exhibit innovation, create more job growth, export more goods and services out-of-state, and attract more new wealth into the state, they possess the potential for accelerated growth that benefits the businesses and Louisiana’s economy. LED Growth Network members represent over 10,000 full-time-equivalent employees and more than $2 billion in annual revenue.
Dan Wyant, the Edward Lowe Foundation president and chief operating officer, served as keynote speaker for Spotlight Louisiana, which took place at the Old Governor’s Mansion. The foundation focuses on entrepreneurship as an economic development strategy.
“I want to recognize Louisiana for being a national model for entrepreneurial support,” Wyant said. “Second-stage companies don’t always get the recognition and support that they deserve. That’s something the foundation and Louisiana are trying to change. Becoming a trusted source for entrepreneurs isn’t easy when you’re a nonprofit; it’s even harder when you’re a government agency. Not so with Louisiana. They’ve broken the mold for how entrepreneurs look at state government.”
Among those recognized at Spotlight Louisiana were 17 Louisiana companies that sent representatives to the Edward Lowe Foundation’s first-ever Leading a Resilient Organization retreat. LED identified qualified companies, convened the group and collaborated with the foundation to tailor the three-day retreat’s content to the group’s need. Participating companies paid their own travel expenses and registration fees.
“The LED Growth Network recognizes the importance of small businesses and particularly those businesses that have the aptitude and appetite for growth,” LED Secretary Don Pierson said. “Louisiana has realized tremendous return on investment with our Economic Gardening and CEO Roundtable programs, and we want to do more to continue nurturing and accelerating the growth of our Louisiana small businesses.”
Louisiana’s Economic Gardening Initiative helps growing firms gain new markets in other states, thereby generating new sales and importing greater value and income to Louisiana communities. The program is wholly funded by LED, which connects participants with a four-person team of highly skilled researchers in specialized tools, including geographic information systems and digital marketing. The resulting business intelligence helps business owners address specific growth opportunities.
CEO Roundtables is a popular peer program through which executives explore business challenges with each other under the guidance of an experienced facilitator. Designed to help established small businesses grow revenue and jobs, LED’s regional CEO Roundtables convene 15 to 18 key decision-makers 10 times for peer-to-per learning, business networking and support in the yearlong program.
Upon completing one or both of the programs, graduates enter the LED Growth Network and continue to access strategic business resources and growth opportunities. For more information about the LED Growth Network, contact Assistant Director of Small Business Services Christopher Cassagne at [email protected] or 225.342.5882.
About the Edward Lowe Foundation
The Edward Lowe Foundation was established in 1985 by Ed and Darlene Lowe to leverage entrepreneurship as a strategy for economic growth and community development. Their entrepreneurship initiatives are focused on second-stage companies, which are growth-oriented firms that have moved beyond startup but have not yet reached maturity. The foundation’s programs in peer learning, leadership education and strategic information are geared to help these companies continue growing. For more information, visit edwardlowe.org.