Louisiana Wins International Awards for Small Business Excellence and Talent Development

NASHVILLE – Louisiana Economic Development won two awards at the 2021 IEDC Annual Conference in Nashville, with the Small Business Services team earning a Gold Award in Entrepreneurship and LED FastStart earning a Silver Award for Talent Development and Retention. The honors were presented to LED Secretary Don Pierson, Assistant Secretary Mandi Mitchell, Undersecretary Anne Villa and the LED Small Business Services team.

IEDC recognized Louisiana for delivering the world’s best economic development programs in the largest population category (500,000 and above). For the Entrepreneurship category, the council singled out the LED Growth Network, which focuses on growth-oriented support for second-stage small businesses in Louisiana. In the Talent Development and Retention category, LED FastStart was recognized for its best-in-class talent recruitment and workforce training services.

“I extend a heartfelt congratulations to the teams at Louisiana Economic Development who will bring home awards that signify recognition on a global scale,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “Businesses large and small can rest assured that our economic development team is delivering on its commitment to foster a strong economic climate in our state, and to provide the resources, guidance and support for entrepreneurs to succeed. LED’s Small Business Services team fosters growth for small businesses, which has been a priority of my administration since day one, and LED FastStart’s continuous innovation has led them to remain the national leader in workforce development.”

LED was honored in previous years with IEDC Awards. The support efforts of LED’s Small Business Services team were awarded Gold in 2019. LED FastStart earned Silver in 2020 for leading higher education partnerships statewide in support of the DXC Technology project. LED FastStart also received an IEDC Bronze Award in the Talent Development and Retention category for its partnership with Boeing and Nunez Community College.

The IEDC is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that serves economic developers. With 5,000 members, it is the largest organization of its kind.

“Small businesses stimulate job creation, develop crucial innovations, and promote a diverse economic base,” IEDC CEO Jeff Finkle, CEcD, said. “We are pleased to recognize Louisiana Economic Development for their efforts in supporting entrepreneurship through innovative programs and focused initiatives that nurture and provide critical assistance to small businesses. We also recognize the great work that LED FastStart is accomplishing through its talent development and retention initiatives. Workforce innovation is central to economic growth, and Louisiana is in good hands with LED FastStart. The pandemic crippled many small businesses and programs like LED’s are crucial for the comeback we hope to achieve in our small business community.“

In 2017, LED launched the Growth Network, which has been named as a national model for entrepreneurship support by the Edward Lowe Foundation. To date, the LED Growth Network has assisted more than 550 firms in their second stage of growth, with those firms representing nearly 20,000 employees and accounting for combined annual sales of more than $3.8 billion. The network programming focuses on strategic research, peer-to-peer learning, leadership development, mentorship and more. Many of the guiding principles behind the LED Growth Network were gathered from LED’s collaboration with the foundation, which supports economic growth by leveraging entrepreneurship.

“Louisiana continues to be a rock star of entrepreneurial support, especially when it comes to second-stage companies,” Chairman and President of the Edward Lowe Foundation Dan Wyant said. “Not only is the LED Growth Network an innovative venue for delivering services that help Louisiana companies scale larger, but it’s also an example of how LED remains in touch with business owners. LED is one of our strongest partners. Its team of individuals is both talented and passionate. They’re not content to sit on their laurels, but continually press on to achieve even better results.”

This summer, Business Facilities magazine ranked LED FastStart as the No. 1 state workforce recruitment program in the nation for the 12th consecutive year. As the nation’s top workforce development and recruitment organization, LED FastStart plays a major role in attracting premier companies to make big investments in and long-term commitments to Louisiana.  LED FastStart consistently delivers exceptional results for client companies as a direct service provider. Its investments in higher education shape and create the talent pipeline industry and communities need to thrive.

“At LED FastStart, we refuse to rest on our laurels,” LED FastStart Executive Director Paul Helton said. “Our commitment to innovation and to the business with whom we work has delivered results to Louisiana communities year after year. I have nothing but pride in our FastStart team, as it is only through their hard work, dedication, skill and enthusiasm that we can achieve success and secure awards like this from IEDC.”

“It is an honor to lead a team of economic developers as skilled and dedicated as LED’s Small Business Services team,” LED Secretary Don Pierson said. “International recognition such as this is achieved only through a tailored approach, acknowledging that in order to best serve the small business community, we must meet companies where they are and dedicate specific assistance where it is needed most. The LED Growth Network does exactly that with best-in-class second-stage support for growing businesses.”

About LED
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.


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