LED Diversity in Entrepreneurship Initiative begins second year

BATON ROUGE, La. — Eleven small businesses from across the state have been selected to participate in the second annual Diversity in Entrepreneurship Initiative, an LED program targeting accelerated business growth for minority- and women-owned companies. The LED Diversity in Entrepreneurship Initiative launched Sept. 20-22 via a partnership of Louisiana Economic Development and the Michigan-based Edward Lowe Foundation.

“Our Small Business Services team continues to aggressively seek new ways to develop and deliver impactful programs,” LED Secretary Don Pierson said. “Innovating at the speed of entrepreneurs, collaborating with key partners and tailoring resources when necessary is a recipe for success. We appreciate our partnership with the Edward Lowe Foundation and their willingness to work with us and build upon our robust support of small business.”

The participating firms, located throughout the state, are considered second-stage businesses. Second-stage firms typically have 10 to 99 employees and are poised for further growth, often spurred by selling products and services in out-of-state markets and bringing new dollars back to their communities. Common issues for second-stage businesses include building a management team, sustaining growth and focusing on new opportunities. This year’s participants include diverse industries such as biotechnology, mental health services, logistics and construction.

The program kicked off with retreat-style meetings for three days in a virtual setting. Using a unique blend of content, dialogue, strategic research, and peer learning, the program seeks to understand specific challenges to growth and to identify solutions for scaling each business. Each company will now participate in their own one-on-one strategic research engagement called the System for Integrated Growth, which provides access to expert specialists who generate customized information aligned with company needs. In addition, the group will reconvene for three monthly peer-learning roundtable meetings starting in October. 

“We are delighted to welcome a second cohort of Louisiana entrepreneurs into the Diversity in Entrepreneurship Initiative,” said chairman and president Dan Wyant of the Edward Lowe Foundation. “As entrepreneurs enter their second stage, they face a myriad of new challenges – something our founder Ed Lowe often referred to as ‘brick walls.’ This is especially true for minority and women business owners. Yet by combining peer learning, custom research and leadership training into one holistic program, we address three key areas where second-stages struggle: isolation, a lack of information and the need for leadership development. Participants are able to clearly identify what’s holding them back and which challenges they can overcome, and get the information they need to knock down those brick walls.”

Businesses participating in the 2022 LED Diversity in Entrepreneurship Initiative include:

  • Brew Agency of Baton Rouge
  • CALLS PLUS of Lafayette
  • Demo Diva Demolition of New Orleans
  • Elated Counseling Services of Shreveport
  • Mobile X-Ray Service of Shreveport Bossier
  • NRK Construction of Baton Rouge
  • Obatala Sciences of New Orleans
  • Quality First Marine of Covington
  • ShredLink of Metairie
  • TDS Trucking, Training, and Technology of Patterson
  • White Glove Interior Care of Lafayette

Graduates of the program will become members of the LED Growth Network, which consists of over 600 companies that employ more than 21,000 employees and generate $4 billion in annual sales.

“We congratulate the small businesses that have been chosen for this innovative program,” LED Assistant Secretary Brenda C. Guess said. “This selection not only recognizes the growth and progress of these companies, but continues to show the commitment of Louisiana and LED to furthering diversity in our small business community. We also are grateful for the ongoing opportunity to work with the Edward Lowe Foundation; this partnership has launched several important programs that resulted in some of our most impressive small business wins in recent years.”

LED and the Edward Lowe Foundation hope to expand the initiative to more companies in future years. For more information on LED’s Diversity in Entrepreneurship Initiative, leader retreats, CEO Roundtables, the System for Integrated Growth or the LED Growth Network, contact Christopher Cassagne, assistant director of Small Business Services, at 225.342.5882 or Christopher.Cassagne@la.gov.

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