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ULM President appoints new LSBDC state director

Published September 16, 2013

University of Louisiana at Monroe President Dr. Nick J. Bruno, recently appointed Rande Kessler as the Louisiana Small Business Development Center State Director.

Kessler succeeds Mary Lynn Wilkerson who will serve in a transitioning capacity until she retires Sept. 30.

Kessler previously served as center director of the LSBDC at LSU Shreveport and has worked for the organization for more than a year.

Photo of Mary Lynn Wilkerson
Photo of Dr. Nick J. Bruno
Photo of Rande Kessler

Confident in Kessler's appointment, Bruno said, "Rande Kessler will surely guide the Louisiana Small Business Development Center to future success. His experience as center director at LSU Shreveport as well as his business experiences prepared him for the rigors of this new position, providing him with all the knowledge required to maneuver through the various roles and levels of management necessary to maintain this network. He is the right person for the job."

Kessler brings more than 30 years of experience in engineering and operations management to the LSBDC.

The search committee recommended Kessler's appointment after reviewing and interviewing a strong pool of applicants from the region and throughout the country.

In his role, Kessler will oversee the statewide network comprised of university and community college supported entrepreneurial assistance centers.

He will also work closely with local, state and federal officials to assist with statewide and regional economic development efforts.

"I enjoyed my experience at LSU Shreveport and I'm looking forward to working with President Bruno, his administration, and the LSBDC staff at ULM," said Kessler.

Kessler's focus for the next year is to enhance counseling and training programs for emerging and growth-oriented small businesses and step up the outreach efforts in northeast Louisiana and throughout the state.

"My plan is to provide significant value to innovators and entrepreneurs across Louisiana by providing a broader scope of business services, drawing from my background and experience in corporate operations and small business management," he said.

Combining the skills from 30 years' experience in the public and private sector, Kessler brings the LSBDC a diverse background in business leadership and development

Prior to joining the LSBDC, Kessler, a U.S. Navy Veteran, worked for Michelin North America, a leading tire design and manufacturing company.

Starting as an industrial and process engineer, Kessler held multiple leadership positions in the areas of logistics, personnel and plant management.

Kessler was also part owner and Chief Executive Officer for Advanced Coastal Technologies, a small erosion control and storm protection company that specializes in the design, manufacture, and installation of sand-filled geotextile units and water-filled flood protection tubes.

Within six months of opening, he and his team turned the Alabama based company into a multi-million dollar operation with sales throughout the U.S. and abroad.

"Kessler has proven leadership skills and experience as reflected in his past successes in both his military and civilian career," said Michael Ricks, district director for the U.S. Small Business Administration in Louisiana.

"During his short time serving as the Director of LSDBC at LSU Shreveport, he made great strides in improving services and has taken that organization to a new level. I look forward to the positive impact and improvements he will make to centers across the state."

A graduate of the United States Naval Academy, Kessler received his Bachelor of Science in Ocean Engineering and a Master of Science in Personnel Management & Administration from Troy State University.

About the Louisiana Small Business Development Center
Last year, through its partnership with Louisiana Economic Development and the U.S. Small Business Administration, the LSBDC statewide network served thousands of small businesses, creating 964 new jobs, 165 new businesses, $54 million in capital, and helping generate $17 million in new state income tax revenue.

Designated and funded as the state's principal provider of small business assistance by Louisiana Economic Development, the Louisiana Small Business Development Center is the only statewide, nationally accredited program that provides business consulting to entrepreneurs at no cost.

Through a network of 10 centers, the LSBDC provides high quality one-on-one consulting, training and information resources to empower new and existing businesses.

LSBDC is funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, Louisiana Economic Development, and participating universities.

All SBA programs are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities and limited English proficiency (LEP) will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance.