Spotlight Louisiana: Gov. Edwards, LED Honor 2021 Growth Leaders

BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana Economic Development honored 10 companies as 2021 Louisiana Growth Leaders this week in a program featuring Gov. John Bel Edwards and LED Secretary Don Pierson. Staged online Thursday evening, Spotlight Louisiana is an annual event celebrating second-stage businesses in the LED Growth Network.

“We have so much to be proud of in Louisiana and our small business community is among our greatest assets,” Gov. Edwards said. “Each of our Louisiana Growth Leaders began as a small company that experienced success by bringing great products and services to the marketplace. They have persevered through challenges, capitalized on opportunities and represent some of the best of what Louisiana has to offer. I look forward to their continued success in the years to come.”

Cited for their community involvement and business success, the 2021 Louisiana Growth Leaders are:

  • Ballard Brands of Covington | Peter Boylan III, president
  • BBQGuys of Baton Rouge | Russ Wheeler, CEO
  • CyberReef of Shreveport | Hilton Nicholson, CEO
  • E-Claim of Harvey | Thomas Brown, founder and CEO
  • Genesis 360 Facility Maintenance & Construction of Baton Rouge | Craig Stevens, president
  • ITinspired of Baton Rouge | Rob Wise, co-owner and CEO
  • LogoJET of Lafayette | Susan Cox, president, founder and CEO
  • MasteryPrep of Baton Rouge | Craig Gehring, founder and CEO
  • Techneaux Technology Services of Lafayette | Ben Johnson, owner and CEO
  • ThreeSixtyEight of Baton Rouge | Kenny Nguyen, co-founder and CEO

“As a former small business owner myself, I continue to be excited about innovative new resources being launched by our department,” Pierson said. “But what I am most excited about is the impact these programs are having on businesses in our state. I have had the privilege of meeting many of the 2021 Louisiana Growth Leaders and finalists through our programs, such as the American Academy of Entrepreneurs. LED is honored to play a role in supporting the growth objectives and celebrating the success of our small businesses. Congratulations to all of you.”

Louisiana Growth Leaders are selected by economic development professionals from across the state. A panel evaluates applications on growth, strategy, innovation, leadership, culture, philanthropy and intangibles. Another 20 outstanding finalists were recognized at Spotlight Louisiana 2021. Detailed information about the winners and finalists may be found in Louisiana’s Entrepreneurial Engine 2021 and a recording of the Spotlight Louisiana program can be viewed here.

Created in 2017, the LED Growth Network consists of more than 500 companies from all eight Louisiana regions. Members are second-stage businesses — beyond the startup stage and poised for growth, but not yet mature — and they collectively account for over $3.6 billion in annual sales and represent 17,400 jobs. Louisiana small businesses enter the LED Growth Network by participating in one or more of the department’s programs for second-stage firms, which include strategic research, peer learning, leadership retreats and more.

At the inaugural Spotlight Louisiana event in 2018, Chairman and President Dan Wyant of the Michigan-based Edward Lowe Foundation described Louisiana as a “national model for entrepreneurship” because of the LED Growth Network and related programs. He also addressed the audience at the virtual Spotlight Louisiana 2021 event.

“It’s my honor to congratulate the 2021 Class of Louisiana Growth Leaders,” Wyant said. “Your organization stands out for leadership, organizational culture and contributions to your communities. As a Growth Leader, you are one of the entrepreneurial engines in the state of Louisiana. I also want to congratulate the entire LED Growth Network. It is our privilege at the Edward Lowe Foundation to serve so many of you alongside LED.”

Applications will be accepted for the 2022 Louisiana Growth Leaders class from Oct. 1 through Nov. 30, 2021. All LED Growth Network companies are eligible to apply. For more information about the LED Growth Network, Spotlight Louisiana or Louisiana Growth Leaders, contact Assistant Director of Small Business Services Christopher Cassagne at Christopher.Cassagne@La.Gov or 225.342.5882.

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. For more information, visit


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