LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — Bunker Labs, a national nonprofit working with veterans is moving to Lafayette. The organization works to inspire veterans, active military, and military spouses to start their own businesses.
According to Bunker Labs, 49% of veterans after World War II started their own business. Today, the number of veterans starting their own business after battle is down to 4%.
“The military provides a really solid structure for them while they are inside. Once they are outside they really don’t have that support system that they had before,” says Andrew Ward.
Ward is a veteran and founder of the Acadiana Veteran Alliance. They worked with LEDA, one Acadiana, and UL to bring Bunker Labs to Lafayette, which is the nonprofit’s first Lousiana location.
“Through AVA and Bunker Labs, what we are really trying to do is bring veterans in and show them that they do have tools to start businesses,” says Ward. “Bunker Labs has a really great history of programming, of inspiring, of educating, and of connecting veterans. Because they have locations all over the country veteran entrepreneurs that work within the Acadiana region could also be connected to Nashville, or Dallas, or Atlanta. We can actually grow and get even bigger because of that.”
Bunker Labs will be located in the LITE Center and work with the Opportunity Machine to help veterans cultivate ideas.
“Our mission is to really empower local veterans and also those guys who are inside of the military,”
says Ward. “We have 11,000 National Guard soldiers in Louisiana. For those men and women who are coming out they might not have a clear path, so what we really want to do as an organization and also team up with Bunker Labs is to provide that resource to them and say that we can go to you, you can’t help us on that job, and that next stage in life.”
The Lafayette chapter of Bunker Labs will celebrate their official opening on Nov. 9 at the LITE Center auditorium. The event will be held virtually on Zoom and Facebook and will start at 7 p.m.