Applications Now Open for Fourth Annual Rural Entrepreneurship Program

BATON ROUGE, La. – Louisiana Economic Development is now accepting applications for its fourth annual Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative, the small business program that helps local companies overcome challenges unique to rural communities.

Program participants must be second-stage businesses, which typically have 5 to 99 employees and are poised for further growth, often spurred by expansion to out-of-state markets. The initiative, conducted in partnership with the Edward Lowe Foundation, is designed to address issues that are common to all small businesses but often magnified in rural areas, such as targeting new opportunities, sustaining growth, expanding a team and marketing digitally.

“Supporting small businesses in rural areas of Louisiana is not just about bolstering local economies but investing in the heart of our communities, preserving our cultural heritage and empowering individuals to achieve their entrepreneurial goals,” LED Assistant Secretary Brenda Guess said. “By providing targeted resources, infrastructure and opportunities, we can cultivate sustainable growth, create jobs and foster resilience in these vital regions. I encourage rural second-stage businesses in every corner of our state to apply for this unique program.”

Following a virtual retreat, companies will have the opportunity to work with LED’s System for Integrated Growth, which provides one-on-one access to expert specialists who generate customized information aligned with specific company needs.

Upon completion of the program, participating companies join the LED Growth Network, a statewide alumni group that consists of more than 700 companies generating nearly $4.2 billion in annual sales and employing more than 22,700 full-time equivalent employees.

“LED’s Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative provided invaluable support and guidance to me and my business,” GATR Coolers CEO and 2023 program graduate Bryan McGehee said. “I thoroughly enjoyed learning from other leaders and facilitators about weaknesses in my business and how to improve in those areas. I’ve been recommending this and other LED programs to fellow Louisiana businesses.”

Since its inception, more than 30 Louisiana businesses from a wide range of industries including manufacturing, healthcare, construction, cybersecurity and technology have graduated from the Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative. From Thibodaux to Vivian to Farmerville to Lacassine and various other cities, these companies have been able to empower rural communities across Louisiana’s eight diverse economic regions through business growth and job creation.

Applications will be accepted through the end of April at

For more information, contact LED Small Business Program Manager Johnna Johnson at or 225.342.4492.

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