The Launch Network debuts

Website aims to connect entrepreneurs, small businesses to resources

A new website is available as an all-encompassing resource to help small businesses and entrepreneurs thrive in north Louisiana.

The Launch Network debuted earlier this week as an online collaborative tool with the mission to help small businesses and entrepreneurs across north Louisiana thrive by providing free, easy access to assistance, resources, and information.

Dave Smith, executive director of the EAP, a sponsor of the Launch Network, notes in a blog post on the Launch Network website that during the current environment of economic uncertainty, it is crucial for small businesses and resource providers to bridge the gap and advance the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem.

“Too often, new entrepreneurs and small businesses operate in isolation when navigating complex issues, such as finding the right funding source, business registration and licensing, state and local incentives, and other common challenges. At the same time, people within the regional network have expertise, investment dollars, strategic planning tools, and knowledge to share — they also have passion and drive to help small businesses grow and prosper in our state,” Smith’s post said.

He also noted in the virtual unveiling of the Launch Network that LSUS research suggests that the north Louisiana region needs to foster higher levels of cross organizational collaboration to better foster startups and small business activities. 

“We also need to facilitate more commuting conversation and sponsorships for those who want to start new business and those who may not even realize starting a small business is an option,” Smith said. “We also need a central location the public can easily access that lists resource providers and retains all things small business and entrepreneurial.”

Launch Network aims to do that by removing barriers that slow or hinder small business development. It is designed to accelerate the growth of our business community by streamlining the convenience and access to information, networks and people who can help.

The collaborative tool also marked the initiation of a relationship with national networks of ecosystem builders who can share knowledge and best practices.

The foundation of the Launch Network’s website is SourceLink, a program of the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Maria Meyers, founder of SourceLink, said the SourceLink started as an effort to unite the entrepreneurial network in Kansas City and it now connects 5,000 resource partners across 100 communities in the United States country.

“As a city, you need to decide how you are supporting (innovation-led, microenterprise, Main Street companies, and second stage companies) and what’s missing in each of them,” said Meyers. “Our communities have to go through those conversations. It’s a combination of market, perseverance of the entrepreneur, and the ability to take advantage of an opportunity in the market. So you need to provide every resource for them to make them successful.”

You can find out more about the resources available at launchnetworkla.com.