Thursday, June 20, 2024

Two new programs in Northwest Louisiana have been created to assist underserved entrepreneurs and deploy capital 

by David Specht

BRF’s Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program (EAP) held a Launch Network Resource Partner Kick-Off Event on Thursday, May 16 at Louisiana Tech’s Academic Success Center located on the Bossier Parish Community College campus. The event brought together Launch Network representatives from various organizations to introduce the two U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) Build to Scale grants awarded to BRF. The grants, totaling $2 million, are to help accelerate technology entrepreneurship in North Louisiana by increasing inclusive access to entrepreneurial assistance and startup capital.   

EAP announced two new programs, NorLaunch and NorCap, which are funded by the EDA grants. The NorLaunch program is designed to focus on ensuring entrepreneurs who are underserved and in rural areas have equitable opportunity to develop, innovate, and launch high-growth, high-tech startups. The NorCap program aims to deploy capital and facilitate syndication, bringing additional capital to Northwest Louisiana. Entrepreneurs helped by the programs will receive startup services, which may include financial modeling, mentoring, and assisting with funding strategies and pitches.

Launch Network was developed in 2018 after EAP received a previous Build to Scale grant from EDA and is an online platform coordinating small business and startup resources between more than 90 North Louisiana organizations. These organizations, or resource partners, are any organization that provides free services to entrepreneurs and are the force behind Northwest Louisiana’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. The resource partner list is made up of local libraries, chambers and committees, government and economic development groups, and other local accelerators. Since inception, Launch Network has served over 630 entrepreneurs. After the success of Launch Network, Louisiana Economic Development adopted the platform and is now using it as a statewide deployment service for resource allocation. This effort is called the Louisiana Biz Hub.


Courtesy Photo
Tyra Kidd – EAP Financial Analyst – discusses Launch Network with local resource partners from North Louisiana.

Several resource partners were recognized at the event and presented updates on their programs and the services they provide to entrepreneurs. The Greater Shreveport Chamber discussed its Leadership Program, which is designed to identify, motivate and develop community leaders and entrepreneurs. Bossier Parish Libraries explored all the business resources they provide to entrepreneurs at no cost, and their growing business community. The Northwest Louisiana APEX Accelerator shared recent programs on how they help underserved entrepreneurs and businesses succeed in securing government contracts. 

Looking ahead, EAP is excited to announce its continued support in the growth of Northwest Louisiana’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Here is a glimpse into what is coming up:

1 Million Cups: 1 Million Cups is EAP’s free entrepreneurial event open to the public. Each month features a guest speaker who talks about their entrepreneurial journey. This gives other entrepreneurs the opportunity to ask questions, gain knowledge, and build their networks while enjoying a cup of coffee. These events are cohosted with Cohab, Andress Artist & Entrepreneur Center, and Rhino Coffee. The next gathering is scheduled for June 12 at 8 a.m. at the Andress Artist & Entrepreneur Center. The guest speaker for June’s gathering is Toni Durham, President of Durham Transports Academy, a woman- and minority-owned company. 

Professional Development Workshops: EAP will hold a variety of workshops and networking events on essential entrepreneurial topics designed to equip entrepreneurs with the appropriate tools and resources they need to thrive. A Food Truck Workshop at the end of July will be co-hosted with Southern University’s Kitchen Incubator, ‘MS KICK’, with a panel to help aspiring entrepreneurs finance, develop, and launch their food trucks. 

The workshop will be followed by a Free Food Truck Friday event! Locally owned food trucks will be stationed at MS KICK prepping and serving delicious food for all attendees.

After the first Food Truck Workshop in Shreveport, EAP will be taking this event on the road to other cities across Northwest Louisiana. Stay tuned for more details about future workshops coming soon.

EAP is made up of a team of financial analysts committed to helping launch startups in North Louisiana. The EAP team helps young companies in many different respects. If you have an idea for a startup company or an invention and are looking for help to launch, look no further than Shreveport’s own EAP. Visit eapla.com to learn about upcoming workshops and events or visit us on EAP’s signature blue couches to chat about starting or growing your business. Learn more about Launch Network at launchnetworkla.com. 

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