‘Spotlight Louisiana’ Introduces Inaugural Growth Leaders Class

BATON ROUGE, La. — Ten companies from throughout the state have been honored for their business success and community leadership as the inaugural class of Louisiana Growth Leaders. Gov. John Bel Edwards highlighted the honors, which were announced at the annual Spotlight Louisiana reception hosted Thursday night by Louisiana Economic Development. Spotlight Louisiana is a recognition and networking reception for small businesses in the LED Growth Network.

The following businesses and their principal executives were cited as 2019 Louisiana Growth Leaders:

  • Argent Financial Group | Ruston | Kyle McDonald
  • Calls Plus | Lafayette | Barbara Lamont
  • E-Claim.com | Harvey | Thomas Brown
  • ILSI Engineering | New Orleans | Iam Tucker
  • ITinspired | Baton Rouge | Robert Wise
  • LogoJET | Lafayette | Susan Cox
  • Pod Pack International | Baton Rouge | Tom Martin
  • Southern Designs | Vidalia | Tance Hughes
  • Techneaux Technology Services | Lafayette| Ben Johnson
  • Waitr | Lake Charles | Chris Meaux

“I am pleased to announce our inaugural Louisiana Growth Leaders class, the newest component of the LED Growth Network,” Gov. Edwards said. “The 10 members of this class demonstrate why we have so much to be proud of here in Louisiana. They are an excellent testament to our small business strength and our success as a state.”

The Louisiana Growth Leaders selection panel evaluated applications from LED Growth Network companies based upon categories determined by LED including growth, strategy, innovation, leadership/culture, philanthropy and intangibles.  Twenty-two companies were finalists for the inaugural award.

LED Growth Network companies have graduated from LED’s Economic Gardening Initiative and/or CEO Roundtable programs, which are strategic resources designed to accelerate the growth of second-stage businesses. This alumni network includes more than 350 companies representing all eight regions of the state. 

Collectively, LED Growth Network companies represents more than 13,000 full-time equivalent employees and over $2.7 billion in annual gross revenues. Second-stage companies represent only a small percentage of overall establishments, but they are innovative, collectively employ more people than any other stage of business, and are more likely to export products and services beyond Louisiana borders and import new wealth into the state. For every $1 invested in the Economic Gardening and CEO Roundtables programs, Louisiana’s return on investment is more than $9 and $7, respectively.

The award presentations were made at the Spotlight Louisiana event by Michael Olivier, CEO of Louisiana’s Committee of 100 for Economic Development.

“I congratulate each of you here tonight for the successes you have had with your businesses,” Olivier said. “The impact of your efforts is felt throughout Louisiana, in many ways. It starts with your business family. You and your employees pay taxes, which support schools, law enforcement, local infrastructure and other vital services. Louisiana is a better place for what you do.”

Representatives of both the Edward Lowe Foundation and the National Center for Economic Gardening expressed support for the LED Growth Network and the Louisiana Growth Leaders honorees. The foundation focuses on entrepreneurship, specifically second-stage companies, as an economic development strategy. Based in Cassopolis, Michigan, the foundation is the host for the National Center for Economic Gardening.

“LED has created a suite of services to help second-stage growth companies,” Edward Lowe Foundation President and CEO Dan Wyant said. “Understanding the challenges that second-stagers encounter is just as important as recognizing their contributions. Serving these growth companies is a different ballgame than working with startups – something that LED really gets – and Louisiana has become a national leader in second-stage support.”

“Louisiana runs one of the premier entrepreneurial programs in the country,” National Center for Economic Gardening founder Chris Gibbons said. “Early on, the state recognized the value of local growth companies and have since built a model Economic Gardening program for the nation. The success metrics are outstanding: less than 200 companies creating roughly 2,000 jobs directly attributable to the program, according to the CEOs.”

A panel of economic development professionals evaluated Louisiana Growth Leader applications on a number of categories. The selection panel included representatives from the Baton Rouge Area Chamber; Cameron Parish Port, Harbor and Terminal District; Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance; Chennault International Airport Authority; city of Ruston; Edward Lowe Foundation; Greater New Orleans Inc.; LSU Innovation Park; New Orleans Business Alliance; Northeast Louisiana Economic Alliance; OneAcadiana; South Louisiana Economic Council; St. Tammany Corp. and Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance.

“This diverse group of Louisiana Growth Leaders is doing more for our state than simply adding jobs and growing tax revenue,” LED Assistant Secretary Mandi Mitchell said. “They are also giving back to their local communities and reinforcing a culture that is consistent with Louisiana values. Investing in entrepreneurship and growing what we already have is an important mission at LED that we intend to expand upon in the coming years.”

For more information about the 2019 winners, finalists, and other LED Growth Network companies, see the Louisiana Growth Leaders publication Louisiana’s Entrepreneurial Engine.

Applications for the 2020 Louisiana Growth Leaders class will be accepted from Sept. 1 through Oct. 31, 2019.  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 the Edward Lowe Foundation
The Edward Lowe Foundation was established in 1985 by Ed and Darlene Lowe to leverage entrepreneurship was a strategy for economic growth and community development. Their entrepreneurship initiatives are focused on second-stage companies, which are growth-oriented firms that have moved beyond startup but have not yet reached maturity. Their peer learning, leadership education, and strategic information programs are geared to help these companies continue growing.  For more information, visit http://edwardlowe.org.

About the National Center for Economic Gardening
The National Center for Economic Gardening was founded by Chris Gibbons, who partnered with the Edward Lowe Foundation in 2008 to host the center in order to help other communities implement his approach. Since then, the center has helped establish Economic Gardening programs in more than 25 states. For more information, visit www.NationalCenterEG.org.

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