Louisiana Kicks Off Fourth Annual American Academy of Entrepreneurs

BATON ROUGE, La. — Sixteen Louisiana-based, growth-oriented companies became the fourth group of participants in the American Academy of Entrepreneurs, designed to accelerate business growth and develop meaningful relationships among second-stage companies. The program is made possible by a collaboration between Louisiana Economic Development and the Michigan-based Edward Lowe Foundation.

The 2023 initiative began July 18-20 with intensive, retreat-style programming for participants at Big Rock Valley, the foundation’s headquarters in Cassopolis, Michigan. Participating companies paired as mentors and mentees will engage in six monthly one-on-one meetings focused on developing strategies for overcoming obstacles to growth.

“Learning directly from leaders who have been through and overcome the hurdles of starting a business is one of the most valuable resources an entrepreneur could have,” LED Secretary Don Pierson said. “I applaud the LED Growth Network companies participating in this initiative. Based on the experience of prior program participants, I can say with confidence that strong relationships and accelerated business growth will be the result.”

Businessman Ed Lowe, inventor of Kitty Litter, created his namesake foundation as a platform for entrepreneurs to come together and help one another break through barriers that hinder business growth.

“We’re proud to continue our partnership with LED, which is a national leader in serving second-stage companies,” said Dan Wyant, chairman and president of the foundation. “We were excited to welcome the fourth cohort of Louisiana business owners to Big Rock Valley to begin the AAE program. With its 2,000 acres of woodlands, prairies, ponds and streams, Big Rock Valley provides a peaceful environment where entrepreneurs can not only relax and recharge but also gain new insights about their businesses.”

Second-stage businesses typically have 10 to 99 employees and sell to external markets. Common issues for these businesses include building out a team, growing to last and focusing on new targeted opportunities. The LED Growth Network provides a suite of services to Louisiana’s second-stage businesses, with mentorship opportunities being one focus area.

“The materials presented at the retreat were very powerful,” Noble Plastics president and 2022 AAE mentor Missy Rogers said. “As a highly busy and relatively skeptical person, I’m so glad I went through the program. If I had done this 12 years ago, my business would be in an entirely different place today.”

The following businesses are participating in the 2023 AAE mentorship program:

  • Anders Construction Inc. of Harvey, a commercial diving and marine services company founded in 2005.
  • CORE Boiler & Mechanical Services LLC of Prairieville, an industrial specialty company and mechanical contractor that offers boiler repairs, HRSG repairs, specialty welding, piping fabrication and installation, founded in 2019.
  • Deano Hardwoods LLC of Broussard, a distributor of hardwood lumber, plywood and cabinet hardware and molding, founded in 2004.
  • Elated Counseling Services of Shreveport, a modern mental health agency founded in 2018 that provides therapy, consulting and educational support.
  • Engineering & Inspection Services LLC of Metairie, a full service engineering, design and inspection firm founded in 2000.
  • GATR Coolers of Thibodaux, a provider of premium, customized rotomolded coolers, stainless drinkware and other outdoor related products, founded in 2017.
  • GRI Technology Solutions Inc. of Baton Rouge, a software development, AI and cybersecurity company founded in 2014.
  • Leading Edge Manufacturing of Youngsville, a manufacturing company founded in 1994 that specializes in design, production and fabrication of sheet metal products.
  • Manning, APC of New Orleans, an architecture, interior design, program management and urban planning firm founded in 1985.
  • Martin Specialty Coatings LLC of Shreveport, a performance coatings application firm founded in 1947 that serves clients across the Ark-La-Tex.
  • PERC Development of Lake Charles, a construction management firm founded in 2010 that specializes in construction management and general contracting.
  • Pod Pack International LLC of Baton Rouge, a manufacturer of single serve coffee and tea products for a number of brands across the U.S., founded in 1996.
  • Priority Transportation & Language Services of New Orleans, a boutique provider of non-emergency medical transportation and language services, founded in 2018.
  • Tekchix of Metairie, a boutique IT recruiting firm with a mission of growing the tech sector in Louisiana, founded in 2017.
  • Under Pressure of Lafayette, a commercial pressure washing and parking lot striping company founded in 2017.
  • White Glove Interior Care of Lafayette, cleaning consultants specializing in medical, legal and small universities. The company was founded in 1985.

For more information on the American Academy of Entrepreneurs program or how to become an LED Growth Network company, contact Christopher Cassagne, assistant director of Small Business Services, at 225.342.5882 or email Christopher.Cassagne@la.gov.

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.

About LED
Louisiana Economic Development is responsible for strengthening the state’s business environment and creating a more vibrant economy. It is the only state agency in the U.S. accredited by the International Economic Development Council, boasting award-winning programs like LED FastStart, a longtime national leader in customized workforce development. LED also supports a wide range of higher ed partnerships that Business Facilities magazine recently credited for Louisiana’s ranking as the No. 1 Tech Talent Pipeline in the U.S. In 2022, LED attracted 53 new economic development projects representing 18,137 new direct, indirect and retained jobs and $20.7 billion in new capital investment. Explore how LED cultivates jobs and economic opportunity for the people of Louisiana and employers of all sizes at OpportunityLouisiana.com.

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