Nine Louisiana Businesses Selected for Third Annual Rural Entrepreneurship Program

BATON ROUGE, La. – Nine small businesses from across the state have been selected to participate in the third annual Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative, an LED program that helps local companies overcome challenges unique to rural communities.

Program participants are considered second-stage businesses, which typically have 10 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.

“One of our top priorities at LED continues to be supporting, developing and enhancing business resources for rural communities,” LED Secretary Don Pierson said. “Our partnership with the Edward Lowe Foundation is one of the many ways we leverage state-of-the-art tools and assets rural entrepreneurs need to be successful. Rural small businesses are key to expanding and diversifying the state’s economy and this initiative provides a spark for rural economic growth.”

The businesses selected to participate in the 2023 Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative are:

  • Bentz Construction Group, LLC, West Monroe
  • Finding Solace, West Monroe
  • GATR Coolers, Thibodaux
  • MOR Logistics & Environmental Services, Houma
  • Professional Engineering and Environmental Consultants, Inc., Robert
  • Sawyer Industrial Plastics Inc., West Monroe
  • SBC Lights, Benton
  • Stric-Lan Companies, Duson
  • SSE Steel Fabrication, St. Bernard

The program opens with a three-day retreat (May 16-18), followed by professionally facilitated virtual roundtables each month. Participants also 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. The initiative closes with a final meeting featuring presentations from participants about business goals and plans.

“LED’s Rural Initiative, through peer to peer learning among innovative small businesses, will shine a light on challenges that exist and foster the development of solutions to those challenges,” LED Small Business and Community Services Director Patrick Witty said. “We are proud of this class of business leaders and look forward to the continued impact they will have in their communities and the state’s economy.”

Upon completion of the program, participating companies join the LED Growth Network, a statewide alumni group that consists of more than 630 companies generating nearly $4 billion in annual sales and employing more than 21,700 full-time equivalent employees.

“I would like to recognize LED’s ongoing commitment to second-stage companies in rural Louisiana,” Edward Lowe Foundation Chairman and President Dan Wyant said. “In many communities, second stage companies are under-recognized and under-supported – not in Louisiana. LED continues to be the model for accelerating growth of these important rural businesses.”

LED and the Edward Lowe Foundation hope to expand the initiative to more companies and communities in future years. For more information about becoming part of the LED Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative, contact Small Business Services Program Manager Johnna Johnson at 225.342.4492 or

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, rated the No. 1 customized workforce training program in the U.S. 13 years in a row. 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

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

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