Entrepreneurs in the area have until the end of January to apply to take part in the Shell LiveWIRE Louisiana Accelerator program, which offers free intensive training, mentorship, networking and financial guidance to help local businesses grow.
“The overall response to the program has been incredibly positive. We’ve received enthusiastic feedback from participants and impactful stories of progress in their businesses,” Becky Cooper, US Corporate Relations Advisor for Shell, said. “It is truly gratifying to see the impact this program has had, resonating positively with our community and exceeding expectations.
The program began last year. Cooper said South Louisiana was an ideal location for the pilot program in 2023 based on the presence of Shell assets, opportunities to diversify non-energy sectors and limited entrepreneurial training programs for rural demographics.
“Supporting a diverse range of businesses can lead to a more vibrant and thriving community, offering residents a variety of goods and services which, in turn, contributes to an enhanced overall quality of life,” Cooper said. “By extending the program to businesses in different sectors, you promote a holistic approach to community development, fostering an environment where entrepreneurship can thrive across a spectrum of industries.”
Last year, 25 business owners graduated from the program. Shell LiveWIRE supports businesses demonstrating attributes such as innovation, energy solutions, value chain integration and economic diversification.
Craig Jacomine, owner of Craig’s Electrical and Generator Service, graduated from the pilot program last year.
“The support I received regarding aid, mentorship and resources played a critical role in helping me overcome obstacles, take advantage of opportunities and achieve significant milestones,” Jacomine said.
Topics covered in the program help business owners manage their money, grow their sales strategy, manage their team and market their business. This years program will expand to eight sessions to dive deeper into managing money and marketing, Cooper said.
Instructors were provided by Fletcher Technical Community College and the school offered scholarships for 10 noncredit courses for all graduates of the program. This year the Louisiana Small Business Development Center will partner with Shell LiveWIRE to implement the program and supply business advisors and mentoring for each participant.
Jacomine said, due to the program, that his staff was able to successfully implement new processes, company goals, mission statements and company values. With appropriate knowledge of loan acquisition, managerial strategies and accounting skills, Jacomine said he received a foundation that played a role in acquiring equipment and assembling a small yet skilled team.
“Accounting was something that was very important and we understood that and were able to hire an in house accountant. Since then we have finance meetings to help plan our path forward with a budget,” Jacomine said. “Also, we were able to start providing employees with a very competitive full benefits package as well as competitive pay. Some of the benefits are health insurance, company paid life insurance, paid holidays, paid time off, matching 401k just to name a few.”
Those who live in 13 parishes are eligible for the program. Those parishes include Ascension, Assumption, East Baton Rouge, Iberville, Jefferson, Lafourche, Livingston, St. Charles, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Mary, Terrebonne and West Baton Rouge.
Applications for the 2024 Shell LiveWIRE Louisiana program will be accepted until Jan. 31. Application forms and more information can be found on: www.shell.us/livewire.