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May 2, 2013

ULM business incubator empowers entrepreneurs to succeed

Today was a "great day" for ULM and the community, said College of Business Dean Dr. Ron Berry.

University and community leaders celebrated the success of the Northeast Louisiana Business and Community Development Center Incubator, housed in Stubbs Hall at ULM.

Business owners seeking help with the growth and sustainability of their endeavors have found a home with the incubator, Berry said.

"Today we're excited to say that our region has an incubator, and we have clients who are doing well and benefitting from the services that this great university provides. We think we've had a great impact with this project," Berry said.

"Our tenants are taking the risks, going out on their own, living their passion, and using this facility to realize their dreams with the goal of graduating from the incubator into the business community. They will then help spur economic growth."

Susan Duggins, executive director of the NLBCDC, said, "Business incubation is a business support process that accelerates the successful development of start-up and fledgling companies by providing entrepreneurs with an array of targeted resources and services," she said.

"A business incubator's main goal is to produce successful firms that will leave the program financially viable and freestanding."

ULM President Dr. Nick J. Bruno thanked the legislative delegation and community leaders for their continued support of the initiative.

"It is very exciting to have the opportunity to participate in this incubator process, which provides opportunities for entrepreneurs to launch their businesses utilizing the tools the university provides to help them succeed," Bruno said.

After a community input and feasibility study, the incubator opened in late 2012.

The incubator offers business owners resources and services designed to support and sustain a successful business including: facilities, administrative assistance, training and opportunities that directly impact the quality of life and stimulate economic growth.

The center also provides regional development opportunities for leaders of community organizations and businesses, including training programs such as budgeting, leadership, planning, financial literacy, and other business-related topics.

"Renting space in an incubator is a solid opportunity for anyone starting a business or growing a young company," continued Duggins.

"The benefits inherent in the incubator environment are significant. The main goal of any incubator program is to accelerate the development of your business by providing a targeted array of resources and services."

The incubator currently houses five businesses including, Angelique Realty, a real estate company focused on residential, commercial and investment properties; Organo Gold, a nationwide gourmet coffee distribution company; Avercom Virtual Solutions, a home based call center that provides work for independent contractors to serve as customer service representatives, technical support, live chat and other online functions; Fat Cat Burgers, a double drive-thru burger restaurant serving Monroe residents; and MyWants Inc., a consulting company that markets an extensive line of high quality services by determining the wants and needs of customers through purchasing and implementing services.

Incubator tenant Kelsi Guidry of MyWants Inc., said, "One thing I really love about the incubator is that it is centrally located with easy access to resources like copy machines, fax, and wireless Internet. Things like that are extremely helpful to a small business. We have big dreams, and the incubator will definitely help us take the next step."

Monroe Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Sue Nicholson said, "These entrepreneurs here are the first of many we will see in this facility."

Louisiana Legislators have been pivotal in securing funding for the incubator and supporting the center's creation and continued success.

In addition, since 2009, the NLCBDC has received $875,000 from the Small Business Association, and the incubator has received $100,000 from the Louisiana Business Incubation Association and Louisiana Economic Development.

Office space is still available.

Those interested can call 318-342-1143 or email for more information.

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