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Region is ready for entrepreneurs

Posted by: George Swift on Tuesday, February 18, 2020

If you have thought about opening a business or have a business idea you want to explore, or if you operate an existing business that needs expansion or re-imaging, then next month in SW La. is for you.

Several organizations are joining together to present a month-long series of programs and resources for entrepreneurs. The series is known as The SWLA Lake Charles Launch. Mayor Nic Hunter had a vision of expanded activities which will complement the Business Pitch Contest and the Chamber SWLA’s Business Expo.

Mayor Hunter, despite his young age, is a seasoned business operator, and before he became Lake Charles Mayor he operated The Harlequin Restaurant.

He knows the challenges of running a business. He also appreciates those who go into business. It’s not all fun and games and requires discipline and focus on your goals. I grew up in an entrepreneurial family and my father opened several businesses. Some were successful and some were not. Each venture was a learning experience and an opportunity to be successful.

Realizing that our region is offering much opportunity, it’s time to act.

Trey Lytle, formerly of Bayou Rum, is an example of one who operated a very successful start-up. Trey recognizes the potential in our area. He said at the news conference announcing the Launch, that now is the time to identify a need in our market and go for it.

The city of Lake Charles, SWLA Economic Development Alliance and the SEED Center Business Incubator are sponsoring the monthlong series.

There will be a number of programs aimed at providing educational opportunities for local entrepreneurs. The series kicks off on Monday, March 2, with the Business Pitch Warm-Up from 5-8 p.m. at The SEED Center. This is for those thinking of starting a business or exploring an idea. This will be the prelude to the Business Pitch contest to be held April 2 at The SEED Center. There are four divisions including a high school competition and cash and prizes total $65,000. For details and rules go to: seedcenterswla.com or call Adrian Wallace at 337-433-0977.

The Chamber SWLA is also sponsoring a business-to- business event, The Business Expo, at the Lake Charles Civic Center on March 26 from 8 a.m. - noon. Following the Business Expo will be a luncheon with Craig Spohn, Executive Director of Cyber Innovation Center.

Other events during March include sessions such as Franchising 101, Starting and Financing Your Business Idea, State and Federal Contacting, and more. For a complete list of SWLA Lake Charles Launch events please go to: www. cityioflakecharles.com/launch.

An entrepreneur is defined as a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so.

There are great risks and great rewards in operating your own business. It’s not a 9-to-5 gig. If you have been thinking of a concept or idea, The Alliance would like to encourage you to attend some of the sessions that will be offered. There is office space for start-ups and mentoring available at The SEED Center Incubator which has produced several very successful businesses. Among those is Waitr which sold for $308 million. Currently we have 21 startups in the Incubator which employ about 45 full-time persons.

If you are going into business you likely will be met by those who will try to talk you out of it. As Taylor Swift (no relation, unfortunately) said, “To succeed in life, it takes ignoring so many people who tell you it’s not possible.”

If you are ready to act, The SWLA Lake Charles Launch is for you.

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