Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Written by Gregg Gothreaux

LEDA is one of several Acadiana commerce labs ready to help your business grow.


Many ABiz readers are probably familiar with LEDA and our regional ally, Acadiana Economic Development, and the services both organizations provide through this column, if not from first-hand experience. I thought this month would be a great opportunity to share with you some of the specific services LEDA and AED offer that may benefit your business while we are in this economic transition period — emerging from the national recession while faced with uncertainty spawned by the oil spill and drilling moratorium.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Written by Gregg Gothreaux

LEDA is one of several Acadiana commerce labs ready to help your business grow.


Many ABiz readers are probably familiar with LEDA and our regional ally, Acadiana Economic Development, and the services both organizations provide through this column, if not from first-hand experience. I thought this month would be a great opportunity to share with you some of the specific services LEDA and AED offer that may benefit your business while we are in this economic transition period — emerging from the national recession while faced with uncertainty spawned by the oil spill and drilling moratorium.

Let’s start with the basics. LEDA’s mission is to provide assistance to existing businesses and start-ups and to attract new businesses to Lafayette Parish. AED works with the economic development entities in Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Landry, St. Martin and Vermilion parishes to provide similar services — business retention and development on a regional level. We do this in several ways.

LEDA works to facilitate existing business retention and expansion within the parish through our business visitation program. Each year, our staff meets one-on-one with decision-makers from more than 550 unique businesses. We discuss how our organizations can assist their businesses within the scope of our services, including tax incentive education and workforce training program application assistance, and ombudsman services. At mid-year, LEDA staff has already met with 265 unique businesses across Lafayette Parish and continually works to reach favorable resolutions to your business concerns. Complementary to LEDA’s business visitation program are AED’s Synchronist visitations that I wrote about last month.

LEDA and AED can help a start-up or expanding business locate potential sites for development. Our Business Development and Information Services departments track more than 850 pieces of property including individual office space and suites, retail, industrial, commercial and land. We work closely with commercial real estate agents to provide accurate and up-to-date information on available properties to our clients. Whether it’s a 1,000-square-foot office space or a 20,000-square-foot warehouse, we’ll work closely with our real estate allies to find the property that best fits your needs.

We also offer market analysis assistance for existing and prospective businesses. Our team of researchers has access to data points ranging from retail sales to employment figures and can gather competitor and consumer data to assist in the growth and development of small business. We understand that positioning a small business involves more than just finding a location; it also encompasses perception, feasibility, efficiency and many other variables that differ across industries. We take the time to learn about those variables and use that knowledge to produce an accurate analysis of your target market or location of interest. So far this year, our researchers have answered nearly 400 inquiries for information from our clients. This can be as simple as the population of Lafayette Parish to something as complex as an economic impact study.

Workforce is a hot issue, and we work directly with business to address it. We actively promote workforce training funding programs to Acadiana employers to help them obtain the skilled workforce necessary for their operation and growth. In FY 2009-2010, Acadiana businesses were awarded $950,524 in Small Business Employee Training awards. Small businesses in the Lafayette area received nearly one third of the total SBET awards approved statewide. That’s a 282 percent increase in training funds from just four years ago.

Additionally, Acadiana businesses were awarded more than $5.5 million dollars in Incumbent Worker Training Program grants. Each August, we host the LEDA Job Fair; with nearly 100 employers and thousands of job seekers, the LEDA Job Fair is the largest job recruitment event in Acadiana.

LEDA also offers education and networking opportunities in the form of seminars and our monthly networking luncheon. This year, we have hosted five free seminars on topics such as government contracting and workforce training opportunities. In September, we are hosting our annual Commercial Realtor/Developer Seminar on the 15th and a Business Incentive Discussion on the 21st. And, anyone who has been to our networking luncheon can attest that we have a good time while helping our attendees make valuable business connections.

Finally, our facility, the LEDA Resource Center, is available for business use at no charge. Conveniently located in the Research Park of UL Lafayette’s University Common, the facility offers numerous amenities to your business. It is the perfect location to hold company trainings and seminars or to make a presentation to a special client. Our two meeting rooms feature audio-visual equipment and presentation equipment for meetings with two to 75 people and have been used by nearly 90 businesses in 2010.

Aside from LEDA and AED, there are several organizations in the region that offer complementary and specialized services for local businesses, both start-ups and established. The Louisiana Small Business Development Center, Procurement Technical Assistance Center, Enterprise Center of Louisiana, Women’s Business Center and The Accelerator offer varying levels of guidance, support and education. Stay tuned because my column next month will go into further detail about The Accelerator — a joint venture between LEDA, LITE, UL Lafayette and the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce — and how it facilitates the creation of new and innovative, tech-intensive businesses in Acadiana.

Acadiana has strong entrepreneurial roots in every industry from farming to retail to services. Entrepreneurs and business owners have taken their commercial success and translated it into opportunities for new entrepreneurs and new business development, as well as for the overall growth of the community. It is small business — existing businesses growing with the parish and new businesses relocating or starting up in the area — that keep Lafayette’s economy fresh, vibrant and diversified. LEDA’s services used in tandem with those provided by organizations such as those listed above can keep a small business on the right track, helping to keep the entrepreneurial spirit alive and well in Acadiana.

Gregg Gothreaux is president and chief executive officer of the Lafayette Economic Development Authority. To comment on this column, e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

LEDA BY THE NUMBERS

Business Retention and Expansion
Business Visitations — annual goal of 550
2009    581
2010    265

Business Seminars

2009 - 6 free seminars with 297 attendees
2010 - 5 free seminars with 235 attendees

Workforce Development
LEDA Job Fair — now in its 15th year

2009 - 80 businesses
More than 3,000 job seekers
2010 - 83 businesses (as of 8/13)

Workforce Development Training Awards — FY 09-10

Incumbent Worker Training Program (IWTP)
$5,513,022 awarded in Acadiana
Small Business Employee Training (SBET)
$950,524 awarded in Acadiana

Information Services (Research)
Client Inquiries — requests for information, including but not limited to demographics, statistics, market research and economic impact studies
2009 - 600
2010 - 369

Properties for sale or lease
LEDA tracks 850 properties including individual office space and suites, retail, industrial, commercial and land.
Statistics tracked
54 different statistics tracked on a monthly, quarterly, semi-annual and annual basis. Other statistics can be tracked or researched upon client request.

Administration
Facility Usage — LEDA’s Conference Room and Development Room are available for business use, free of charge
2009 - 145 businesses, 3,678 attendees
2010 - 85 businesses, 2,237 attendees
2010 - reflects activities through 6/30/10

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