BATON ROUGE, La. — The American Academy of Entrepreneurs recently welcomed 14 Louisiana-based leaders of growth-oriented small businesses to the Edward Lowe Foundation’s headquarters in Cassopolis, Michigan, for its second annual retreat, designed to accelerate business growth and develop meaningful relationships among second-stage companies.
The academy was developed through a collaboration of Louisiana Economic Development and the Edward Lowe Foundation. The retreat, which began July 27, paired participating companies as mentors and mentees, depending on their current phase of growth, to generate the most value from the relationships. The paired companies will now engage in six monthly one-on-one meetings to collaborate and focus on obstacles related to growth.
“Louisiana was honored last year to be the first state in the country to participate and launch the American Academy of Entrepreneurs,” LED Secretary Don Pierson said. “As we continue the critical work of economic recovery and growth, we are incredibly excited to once again be the first in the country to provide this resource to our Louisiana second-stage small businesses. We will see outcomes that are based in innovation and resiliency. I am very confident the relationships and shared knowledge gained through participation in this mentorship program will drive Louisiana’s economic growth and result in significant new wealth creation in our state.”
A component of the retreat was a sharing of the small business philosophies of Ed Lowe, founder of the Edward Lowe Foundation and the inventor of Kitty Litter. Lowe’s lessons for entrepreneurs includes breaking through “brick walls” and embracing collaboration to drive great achievements.
“LED continues to be a national leader in providing assistance for second-stage companies – and we are delighted to have welcomed these Louisiana business owners to Big Rock Valley, our 2,000-acre home in southwest Michigan,” said Dan Wyant, chairman and president of the Edward Lowe Foundation. “Big Rock Valley was a special place for our founders, Ed and Darlene Lowe. And in addition to providing programs that help entrepreneurs be more successful, their vision was to transform this unique property into a haven where business leaders could recharge and be inspired.”
Second-stage businesses typically have 10 to 99 employees and sell to external markets. The LED Growth Network provides a suite of services to help Louisiana’s second-stage businesses confront the growth challenges unique to this phase of their development, with mentorship opportunities being one focus area.
The following businesses are participating in the 2021 AAE mentorship program:
Aristotle’s Alexander of Lafayette, a digital technology solutions provider, founded in 2008;
Ballard Brands of Mandeville, a privately held restaurant, franchising, catering, coffee, and hospitality company, founded in 2001;
Brightside Clinic of Denham Springs, an outpatient mental health clinic and healthcare technology system, founded in 2015;
CBM Technology of Breaux Bridge, experts in computer network, applications and security specializing in on-premises, cloud, and hybrid solutions, founded in 1973;
Computrols, Inc. of Gretna, which designs, manufactures, installs and services building automation systems, founded in 1983;
Crystal Clear Imaging of Harahan, a commercial printer specializing in large format signage and graphics production, founded in 1999;
Demo Diva Demolition of New Orleans, which specializes in “taking it down to the dirt” demolition and abatement services, founded in 2006;
Dependable Glass Works of Covington, a glass and mirror fabrication company servicing commercial and residential clients, founded in 1967;
Gambel Communications of Metairie, a full-service public relations firm with clients across the Gulf South, founded in 2009;
Genesis 360, LLC of Baton Rouge, a construction, building maintenance, and grounds maintenance organization, founded in 2011;
New Orleans Perspectives of New Orleans, a focus group and mock jury facility and recruiter, founded in 2017;
Pelican Defense Technologies of Farmerville, an engineering research and development company for the DoD and defense community, founded in 2018;
RESTECH Information Services, Inc. of Metairie, a managed IT support and cyber security design and consulting firm, founded in 2001;
Techneaux Technology Services, LLC of Lafayette, a technology integrator who specializes in business data journeys, founded in 2010.
As part of a larger vision for the academy, a national conference will be held each year for inductees. The first national AAE conference is scheduled for September 2021, with inductees invited from Louisiana, Florida, and Michigan.
For more information on the American Academy of Entrepreneurs program, contact Christopher Cassagne, assistant director of Small Business Services, at 225.342.5882 or email [email protected].
About The Edward Lowe Foundation
The Edward Lowe Foundation was established in 1985 by Ed and Darlene Lowe to leverage entrepreneurship as a strategy for economic growth and community development. The foundation’s entrepreneurship initiatives focus on second-stage companies, which are growth-oriented firms that have moved beyond startup but have not yet reached maturity. Its peer learning, leadership education, and strategic information programs are geared to help these companies continue growing. For more information, visit EdwardLowe.org.
Louisiana Economic Development is responsible for strengthening the state’s business environment and creating a more vibrant Louisiana economy. LED cultivates jobs and economic opportunity for the people of Louisiana, and promotes business opportunity for employers of all sizes. In 2020, LED attracted 58 new economic development projects representing over 11,600 new jobs, 8,600 retained jobs and more than $12.7 billion in new capital investment. LED’s Small Business Services team, in conjunction with the Louisiana Small Business Development Center Network, assisted more than 17,500 Louisiana small businesses and entrepreneurs in 2020. For more information, visit OpportunityLouisiana.com.