CLEDA entrepreneurship program receives regional award

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ALEXANDRIA, La. (CLEDA) - CLEDA’s Business Acceleration System received a top Southern Economic Development Council Award for its success in helping the region’s business community thrive through entrepreneurship.

The 2018 Community and Economic Development awards were announced at SEDC’s annual conference recently in Mobile, Alabama. BAS was the top honoree in the category of communities with populations over 100,000.

“This is a tremendous honor,” said Gary Perkins, Executive Director of BAS. “The Rapides Foundation had the foresight more than a decade ago to start building out the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Central Louisiana, and it has paid great dividends.”

The Foundation created and continues to fund BAS through its Healthy Communities Priority Area, which seeks to improve health by increasing economic opportunity and family income. Its Economic Environment Initiative includes a focus on business startups and expansions, which typically result in the creation of jobs and an increase in revenues. BAS is implemented by the Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance.

“BAS was designed to cultivate the entrepreneurial community in Central Louisiana by providing coaching and mentoring services to new and existing businesses. Research shows that most jobs created in the United States come from small businesses,” said Joe Rosier, Foundation President, and CEO.

BAS is dedicated to speeding the development of entrepreneurs by helping them acquire and apply the knowledge they need to grow their companies. BAS uses a multi-faceted approach comprised of coaching, expert technical assistance, classroom learning, and web-based instruction to deliver the right content at the right time. BAS clients have grown revenues by $204 million and created 1,310 new jobs while receiving coaching support.

“We have had an excellent return on investment with BAS. More than 1,300 jobs have been created, and we have seen a tremendous increase in overall revenue and profitability for those companies. This is revenue that comes from outside the region and imports cash back into it. It’s wealth creation at its best,” said Jim Clinton, CLEDA President.

Perkins said programs like BAS also help to keep local talent in Central Louisiana. “If we develop our entrepreneurs who already live here and have roots in the community, they are less likely to move away. Homegrown companies give back to their communities, and they tend to stay for generations to come,” he said.

The Southern Economic Development Council is the oldest and largest regional economic development association in North America, with more than 900 members. Its CEDA award program recognizes outstanding organizations for their efforts in advancing the economic viability of their community through economic development programs. Entries are evaluated on their innovativeness, transferability, community commitment and leverage, measured objectives and secondary benefits.

“The CEDA program not only recognizes excellence but allows SEDC to promote successful, results-proven programs that can be shared with other communities,” said SEDC President Gene Stinson.

CLEDA Vice President for Major Employers Larkin Simpson accepted the award at SEDC’s Annual Conference on July 31.

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