23 Students Receive Certificates At LaunchPad Inaugural Graduation Ceremony

ALEXANDRIA, La. (LSUA) – Celebrating the completion of an intensive 10-week online business training program for local entrepreneurs, 23 students were recognized Wednesday evening at Louisiana State University of Alexandria as the first graduates of the LaunchPad training program. LaunchPad is a joint venture between the city of Alexandria and the LSUA College of Business.

The graduation ceremony, held at the Coughlin Auditorium at LSUA, was the first opportunity for students and instructors to meet in person. Due to concerns related to Covid-19, the 20 90-minute classroom sessions were conducted online. Before receiving their certificates, the students presented their marketing “pitch” and gave a brief overview of their business plan.

“The program has been very helpful. I’m much more confident now to start my own business, ”said Kendall Kirsch, CEO and Founder of Basically Brilliant, a web design and consulting company. “The Kaufman FastTrac® program had great information. And I can’t say enough about the instructors at LSUA. They did a great job filling in the gaps and explaining how it fits my business. I am very excited to work for myself and look forward to starting my business. “

Alexandria Mayor Jeff Hall delivered the keynote address at the ceremony. “I was very impressed to meet the students and hear about their business plans,” Hall said. “We talk all the time about attracting new businesses and industries to central Louisiana, and it’s great, but this program is a way to support our local entrepreneurs and develop the talents that we already have in. our community. Tonight we heard some amazing business ideas. We have students who are interested in creating – or have already started – businesses offering website design, parcel shipping, clothing and apparel, cosmetics, Latin American products, and educational products. . We’ve heard students focus on health and wellness, pet care services, dance lessons – the list goes on. It’s really amazing the talent we have here in our community.

Hall added, “The LaunchPad program offers a huge benefit for a start-up or entrepreneur. We are extremely fortunate to have exceptional resources at LSUA College of Business and we are grateful to the Chancellor of LSUA, Dr Paul Coreil and Dr Randall Dupont, for taking the lead in helping us serve our local business community. . It is a program that will bring enormous benefits not only to Alexandria, but to all of central Louisiana. “

“University collaboration with the city of Alexandria is the best community development,” said Coreil. “This type of project expands and aligns well with our community outreach goals and objectives for LSUA.”

Dean Dupont of the College of Business, who coordinated and led the event, commented on the importance of this type of program. “Anytime we can provide more education for community entrepreneurs, it is a victory for the region as a whole. These participants gained in-depth knowledge on how to successfully start and grow a business. The economic effects of this type of programming will be felt throughout central Louisiana. “

The LaunchPad program began on March 1 and used Kauffman FastTrac® online content. Topics covered include market research, business model design, pricing strategy, legal strategy, distribution and sales, financial management, and organization building. Most of the funding for the program came from a $ 15,000 grant from the National League of Cities.

The city of Alexandria is designated as a development intermediary for emerging small businesses by Louisiana Economic Development. As such, the City is required to offer training related to economic development and project financing to small businesses and emerging businesses certified SEBD. However, as only a small number of local small businesses eligible for SEBD certification have been certified, attendance has been low at local SEBD training events. LaunchPad was created to create this base of local small businesses.

“The huge success we’ve seen with this class proves that we have a lot of people locally who want to start a small business or are just starting out,” said Richard Johnson, economic development specialist at the city ​​of Alexandria. “We encourage each and every graduate of the program to complete their SEBD certification and take advantage of the continuing education and support resources available.”

Evelyn Jones, a business consultant at the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), was present at the graduation ceremony and pledged her support for the graduates. Jones works for LSUA and his SBDC office is located inside the Central Louisiana Regional Chamber of Commerce building on Third Street in downtown Alexandria.

“Starting a business is a challenge and can be complicated, so the more knowledge you can have about the many aspects of entrepreneurship, the better,” Jones said. “The Launchpad program did just that for the participants, and they are one step ahead of the process. Additional help and resources are available through the LSUA Small Business Development Center. As a program of the SBA and LED, we are here to provide the necessary tools such as industrial research, business plans and financial projections with personalized and free advice. “

Victoria “Pinky Bob” Byrom, student at LaunchPad, CEO and founder of Envisioned Aromas, said SBDC support is one of the many benefits of participating in the LaunchPad program. “Ms. Evelyn has been an incredible asset to me and the development of my business. She has helped me with everything from finding cheaper prices on some of my needed inventory to helping me build new relationships. in my field of activity, “she said.” It helps make the extremely arduous and overwhelming task of running your own business very easy with the right help. SBDC is more than just a helping agency small businesses to grow are amazing people who really want to see you succeed in business and in life. ”

Graduates of the inaugural class include: Ricardo Brown, Victoria Byrom, Sharon Davidson, Erin Harrison, Miriam Hicks, Brieanna Howell Cowher, Fannietta Johnson, Kendall Kirsch, Sara Lowry, Andrea Martin, Crystal Martinez, Kendrick Moton, Ninette Peek, Yolanda Randle , Courtney Robinson, Pamelaia Sanders, Sarita Sharma, Natasha Shipp, Nieshala Smith, Carrie Spriggins, LuAnn Thomas, Shawanna Thomas and Pam Walls.

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Jessica Zavala

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