Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Smith: Local pilot program to aid entrepreneurs and small businesses goes statewide 

by BIZ Magazine

The BRF’s Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program (EAP) introduced the Launch Network in 2020 with the help of a grant from United States Economic Development Administration. This software from SourceLink provides a nationally recognized program that specializes in building online community ecosystem tools. With SourceLink, Launch Network has been able to connect entrepreneurs with local resources directly. Helping entrepreneurs get the resources relevant to their specific venture quickly decreases discouragement and subsequent cancelation of business launches.

When individuals visit the Launch Network website, they are able to independently navigate the site or reach out to our team. If desired, they can directly click on the community resources and reach out to the resource that best meets their needs on their own. Since 2020, Launch Network has been used 1,500 times by entrepreneurs to do just this.

With the recent launch of Louisiana Economic Development’s Louisiana Business Hub, one of our North LA region’s success stories is front and center. Louisiana Business Hub is a new, statewide resource linking entrepreneurs looking to start or grow their businesses anywhere in Louisiana with the tools they need. This endeavor was inspired by the pilot, EAP’s Launch Network.

The Louisiana Business Hub is currently composed of three regions within the state. Each region will be led by an economic development organization. OneSource, the Capital Region’s initiative, launched on March 15 and is led by Nexus LA. EAP will continue to lead the effort for North Louisiana.

Within the year, Lafayette Economic Development Authority and One Acadiana will work with LED to launch the initiative for the Acadiana region. Louisiana Business Hub will add further regions soon.

While there’s a wealth of programs and organizations supporting entrepreneurs, many first-time entrepreneurs do not know what resources are available. For entrepreneurs throughout the state, particularly those in more rural areas, access to resources is often limited. For many of these rural parishes, the resources available traditionally have been their local library systems and chambers of commerce. Louisiana Business Hub will bring each available resource to the entrepreneur through its online platform. 

Louisiana will now join a handful of states that have already launched similar platforms on a state-wide level. This resource will allow Louisiana to distinguish itself when it comes to supporting entrepreneurs. 

Dave Smith is the EAP executive director at BRF