OPELOUSAS, La. –U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, Chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today joined the Louisiana Municipal Association (LMA) and the Louisiana Business Incubation Association (LBIA) in co-hosting a business incubators and accelerators programs conference in Opelousas, La. Incubators and accelerators assist start-up businesses and entrepreneurs with administrative support and mentorship as well as intensive management consulting respectively. The conference brought together federal and local officials to learn about these programs and their best practices in hopes of spurring more incubators and accelerators being developed.
"I helped organize this event so that local leaders could learn ways to increase small business development across Louisiana and America," said Senator Landrieu. "Both business incubators and accelerator programs are great models of ways to support start-up businesses and entrepreneurs in flourishing and ultimately growing our local economies."
"We have entered ‘the Age of the Bottom-Up Economic Revolution' where the individual in the garage or back porch is bringing products and technologies into the marketplace through the assistance of universities, business incubators, development centers and many government entities working together," said John Ware, President of LBIA.
"With the economic downturn and budget shortfalls, there is a continued need in Louisiana's communities to spur economic growth and create jobs. Today's event provides local officials with both successful economic strategies and possible programs to fund them. We thank Senator Landrieu and LBIA for co-hosting this important event with LMA," said Tom Ed McHugh, Executive Director of LMA.
Incubators and accelerators are examples of successful private-public partnerships. Business incubators offer financial grants, discounted rent and office equipment, as well as technical, administrative and networking support. More than half of business incubators are non-profit programs run by parishes/counties or cities, but other incubators programs could be run by chambers of commerce, universities, and churches. The timeframe for business participation in an incubator is usually five years or less. Business accelerators traditionally are more focused on providing programs such as in-depth technical training, software and Internet connectivity. A vast majority of accelerators are for-profit entities, some of which even offer seed capital in exchange for a stake in the company. The timeframe for business participation in an accelerator is usually 6-12 months, but could be as short as 3-6 weeks of intensive training.
Approximately 60 people attended today's event. Participants included local mayors, economic development officials, lenders, chambers of commerce, incubators and accelerators. Below is a list of presenters.