A collaborative economic development plan being rolled out in Minden will be a pilot program for the state of Louisiana.
Known as ‘The Collaboration’, 9 organizations have come together to help small businesses and entrepreneurs start-up and grow their business. It will also foster development of existing companies.
The idea is to create job growth and retention, factors that will have an impact in growing the local economy. James Graham, Minden’s Economic Development Director calls the collaboration different and unique.
“Well, the sky is the limit for small business it always has been, running a business is not easy for anyone, but through this collaboration we have made it a whole lot easier,” says Graham.
After 30 years Louisiana Economic Development has changed its small business lending criteria making it easier for small businesses to be eligible for state loans. According to Graham, banks do not tend to lend to startup businesses, but through the collaboration they are now more inclined to do so.
“It’ll create jobs, it’ll help retain jobs, and also help increase investment in our community,” says Graham.
Northwest Louisiana Technical College will host an 8 week business startup course at its campus, hoping to eventually train employees that will fill jobs at startup companies.
“We want to make a relationship with these buildings, businesses as they start to grow, so as they need more skills we’re here to help them with it because we’re the partner in the community that provides this part of the piece,” says Earl Meador, Director of Northwest Louisiana Technical College.
If the collaboration shows success it could be implemented in other communities. Representatives from DeSoto Parish were in attendance at Thursday’s announcement.
According to Graham, Minden was chosen because it has a history of small business success.
The organizations participating include The Consortium of Minden/Webster Parish, The Industrial Development Board of the City of Minden, Northwest Louisiana Technical College, Louisiana Small Development Business Center, Louisiana Economic Development, MBL Bank, Citizens National Bank, Gibsland Bank & Trust, and Richland State Bank.