Accelerate St. Landry program helps aspiring entrepreneurs get their footing

·3 min read

Aspiring St. Landry Parish business owners and those seeking additional help as entrepreneurs didn’t have to travel long distances or attend college courses to receive expert advice.

All it took was a six-week attendance commitment from 27 individuals to learn the essentials required to solve potential problems while attempting to start and maintain businesses, said Taylor Lormand, St. Landry economic development specialist.

The nightly courses that were titled Accelerate St. Landry, were completed in December and were meant to help those who finished the program to be better prepared for navigating the potential business-related difficulties they sometimes might encounter, Lormand said.

“Sometimes when you are operating a new business or if you want expertise or maybe counseling, there is no network or no one around to cheer you on,” she added. "Those who completed the program, received that guidance and support."

Those attending the free workshops had their costs covered primarily by grant funding. They also received guidance in taxes, marketing, financing, motivation and other essential components associated with building a successful business.

Structure for the sessions was provided by the Lafayette Economic Development Authority and the St. Landry Chamber of Commerce, with support by the B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Like students taking a business course, those who attended the courses were given packets and binders that detailed the topics that would be discussed each weeke.

That way, those in attendance would know in advance what a guest speaker or presenter would cover during the upcoming session, says Lormand.

Lormand also said the St. Landry program was well-suited for the parish.

“There are a lot of small businesses here and St. Landry is so large geographically. It allowed people from all over the parish to come together. We felt we were reaching into the depths of the parish with these meetings,” Lormand says.

Lormand said a similar series of seminars were held to accommodate the north side of Lafayette before implementing the program in St. Landry.

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“What was one of the most important outcomes from attending is now these individuals who completed the camp, have partners who were at these same conferences," Lormand said. "They now have a network for support with others who are starting businesses or who have businesses and just needed more ideas.”

According to a post on the UL Lafayette College of Business Administration website, the aim of the program was assistance in helping individuals start and grow businesses, turn a side job into a future business or have an idea for a business.

The six weeks of meetings featured assistance from guest speakers in various economic fields. There were also resources, assistance and speakers representing UL- Lafayette.

The website said those who finished the program will be provided with hands-on attention, details about handling customers, formulating a business plan and guidance and consulting after the courses were completed.

“It was a very fundamental program, overall." she said "You, however, had to have the desire to operate or start a business and the desire to learn how to do that. We had one lady who is 76 years old. She attended the sessions because she wants to begin an online bookkeeping business.”

This article originally appeared on Opelousas Daily World: St. Landry, Opelousas program helps new business owners start