The Louisiana Entrepreneurship & Economic Development Center’s next session of Accelerate Northside is starting March 2 and will take place on six consecutive Thursday evenings from 5 – 9 p.m. It includes six weeks of training, opportunities for mentorships with successful entrepreneurs, one-on-one consulting during and after the program, and connections to community resources.
Eligible Accelerate applicants should be existing business owners seeking assistance with growth strategies and individuals who have a business idea or who want to turn a hobby or side job into a full-time business. Applications must be received by February 28, but walk-ups are welcome on March 2 if space is available.
The session will conclude on April 6. A waiver, for which most participants are eligible, covers $425 of the $450 program registration fee.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there are more than 470,000 small businesses in Louisiana. There are nearly 20,000 businesses in Lafayette Parish with fewer than 20 employees, according to ReferenceUSAGov, a business database.
Last year, LEED and the Lafayette Economic Development Authority partnered to continue the Accelerate Northside program and expand it to include new entrepreneurial programming. This partnership enables LEED to broaden its offerings to include an Accelerate Mentoring Program and an Accelerate Female Entrepreneurship Program.
Dr. Geoffrey Stewart, director of LEED and the Moody Company/BORSF Endowed Chair in Regional Business Development at UL Lafayette, said Accelerate Northside’s momentum “is a testament to the collaboration and community established within our cohorts of entrepreneurs.”
“Our LEED Center and B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration team are delighted to have LEDA as our partner in continuing Accelerate Northside and look forward to helping further establish Lafayette as a vibrant, accessible hub for innovation and entrepreneurship,” he said. “The LEED Center also extends its thanks to Senator Gerald Boudreaux for spearheading state funding, which will allow us to continue doing this important work.”
Accelerate Northside, a start-up and small business program that began in 2021, helps entrepreneurs who are economically disadvantaged create and/or grow their own businesses. The LEED has hosted four program cohorts in the last 24 months. In total, more than 180 existing and aspiring business owners have completed the six-week program and more than 80 new companies have been established.
“Small business is the lifeblood of Lafayette’s economy and a core component of LEDA’s new economic development strategic plan and programming,” said Mandi D. Mitchell, president and CEO of LEDA. “The abundance of existing small businesses and new startups speaks to the entrepreneurial spirit and the foundation of our culture here in Lafayette Parish. We are thrilled to expand our partnership to include new programming to be delivered by the LEED Center with a common goal to expand the diversity of business owners that our organizations assist.”
“I am honored to have been able to secure the state funding needed to make this most impactful partnership a reality,” said state Sen. Gerald Boudreaux. “I couldn’t be more pleased to see the joint efforts of the LEED Center and LEDA benefitting the minority business community in such a meaningful way. I am looking forward to the positive impacts of these joint efforts to strengthen and diversify our economy in an inclusive manner.”
For more information and the online application, visit https://business.louisiana.edu/leed/acceleratenorthside.