Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative


Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative

LED’s Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative, delivered in partnership with the Edward Lowe Foundation, aims to accelerate the growth of second-stage businesses in rural areas of Louisiana. With the unique challenges rural entrepreneurs face, program participants will be able to identify what scaling means for both their companies and their communities. They will then move on to develop and refine their business strategy and will be connected to the right tools and expertise to execute the strategy.

  • Virtual kickoff retreat workshop to help develop and refine an overall growth strategy, identify strengths and weaknesses and establish commitment goals
  • A unique peer-learning opportunity that allows participants to discuss pressing issues in a confidential environment
  • Business intelligence related to specific internal or external growth challenges delivered via a team of highly skilled specialists


In order to be considered for participation in the Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative, a business should meet the criteria described below.

  • Company Location – The company must have its principal place of business in a Louisiana city with less than 50,000 in population.
  • Annual Revenue – The company should have annual revenue between $600,000 and $50,000,000.
  • Employees – The company should employ at least five but not more than 100 employees.
  • External Markets – The company should deliver products or services to customers outside their local market or demonstrate the capacity and desire to do so.
  • Lawful Function – The company must be organized for profit to perform a lawful, commercially useful function.
  • Growth – Additional consideration will be given to companies that can demonstrate past and potential growth.
  • Participant Profile – Participants must be a CEO, business owner or key decision maker in the company.

Applicants are not guaranteed acceptance due to high demand and limited capacity.

Getting Started

Applications will be accepted between April 1 and April 30 each year for participatory consideration in the Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative beginning in May of each year. 

For more information on the Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative, contact:

Johnna Johnson
Program Manager
[email protected]

Next Steps

  • Applications will be accepted between April 1 and April 30.

  • LED reviews the application pool for vetting and selection.

  • Companies will be notified of their status and next steps.

  • LED connects confirmed participants with the Edward Lowe Foundation for preparatory items in advance of program launch.

  • LED works with participants individually to prepare for their Strategic Research engagement.


Eligibility Scenarios

Q: My business is currently receiving LED incentives. Am I still eligible to participate in the Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative program?
A: Yes. Your participation in other LED incentives does not preclude you from receiving assistance through Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative program.

Q: I just sold my business to an out-of-state company but continue to operate it from a Louisiana location. Can we still participate in the program?
A: No. Subsidiary companies are considered to be a part of the parent company. Since the parent company is not Louisiana-based, it would not be eligible for this program.

Q: My company is looking to expand its business throughout Louisiana but we do not have the capacity to grow beyond the state's borders at this time. Can the Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative help me expand only within Louisiana?
A: Every company is evaluated on a case-by-case basis; therefore, there is not a blanket answer that would apply. The Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative supports companies looking to expand outside of their traditional market area, preferably out of state, in an effort to increase and accelerate wealth creation throughout the state. 


Q: What is the Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative?
A: LED’s Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative, delivered in partnership with the Edward Lowe Foundation, is a comprehensive program consisting of leadership development, peer learning, and strategic information that aims to accelerate the growth of second-stage businesses in rural areas of Louisiana.

Q: What is an eligible company for the Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative?
A: A Louisiana-based, rural small business that is past the start-up phase, has not yet reached maturity and is poised for future growth. Typically, these are second-stage growth companies with annual revenues of $600,000 to $50,000,000 that employ between five and 99 employees and have demonstrated the desire, ability and capacity to grow. A rural business is located in a city with less than 50,000 in population.

Q:  Does meeting all of the eligibility requirements for LED’s Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative guarantee my acceptance into the program?
A:  No.  Due to high demand and limited capacity, eligibility does not guarantee acceptance into LED’s Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative. 

Q: What is the cost to participate?
A: The program is wholly funded by LED.

Q: What are the services offered through the Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative?
A: The Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative consists of three components – a virtual kickoff retreat workshop spanning two hours for each of the three consecutive days, three monthly virtual roundtable sessions for peer-to-peer learning, and a customized Strategic Research engagement scheduled individually for each participant.

Q: How much time should I plan to dedicate to this program?
A: Participation in the program will consist of 12 hours of group time and another 10-12 hours of individual time with specialists spread over at least four months.

Q: As the leader of an Entrepreneur Support Organization, why should I refer my clients to the Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative program?
A: Referring clients to other state-supported services such as the Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative can help build trust, increase effectiveness and strengthen the entrepreneurial culture in Louisiana.