St. John The Baptist Parish News Release

Local Business Owners Graduate from FastTrac Program

Local Business Owners Graduate from FastTrac Program

Friday, July 18, 2014

On Wednesday, July 16, seven local entrepreneurs graduated from the inaugural class of the Kauffman Foundation FastTrac Entrepreneurial Training Program. The program was offered through the Business Training Center which is housed at the South Central Louisiana (SCL) Technical College, River Parishes Campus. President Natalie Robottom, Councilman-at-Large Lucien Gauff, Carmen Sunda Director of Louisiana Small Business Development Center (LSBDC), John Matthews Louisiana Economic Development (LED) Executive Director of Entrepreneurial Services, Cindy Poskey SCL Dean, family, and friends joined in congratulating the graduates on their accomplishment. "Our goal is to provide new and existing businesses with the tools they need to be successful. This translates into a sustainable livelihood for our residents and the potential to create new jobs," said Parish President Natalie Robottom. "This is only the beginning and we look forward to offering additional training opportunities in the future," she added.

FastTrac is a nationally recognized entrepreneurial training program developed by the Kaufman Foundation, a recognized leader in entrepreneurship. Through FastTrac, participants will have the tools to respond to changes that can impact their business and to build an actionable business plan. "This is what a successful partnership looks like," said John Matthews. "Our goal is to provide access to business owners without them having to travel for the information. With information, we create jobs," he added.

The program included ten sessions for approximately 40-50 hours of training over a one month period. Each session included facilitated activities and group discussions on multiple business topics; a guest speaker related to each topic; networking; coaching sessions; and wrap up and action steps. "This program helped me with the financial process and I now have an exit strategy," said Gemyra Williams. "It is good to have the knowledge and the advice that was provided to us throughout the program," she added. All sessions were led by Dr. Mike Cusack, LSBDC GNOBR Senior Business Consultant and Certified FastTrac Trainer and Lead Faculty and Wayne Aucoin, LSBDC GNOBR Business Consultant and Business Continuity Specialist. Besides having their own workbooks, each student now has lifetime access to the online FastTrac Toolkit. The Louisiana Small Business Development Center, Greater New Orleans and Bayou Region will also provide follow-up assistance to help business owners with their business plans and efforts to grow their businesses. "Not only did Mike, Wayne, and Carmen teach us, we had experts at every class to provide information," said class participant Rick Edwards, ASAP Monogramming.

The program is funded in part through a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement with St. John the Baptist Parish Economic Development, Louisiana Economic Development - Small and Emerging Business Development (SEBD) Program, Louisiana Small Business Development Center (LSBDC), and the South Central Louisiana Technical College, River Parishes Campus (SCL). Class participants were only responsible for $100 of the program fee. "This is the birth of something that will grow and be a success allowing local businesses to be prepared for the growth that is yet to come," said Lucien Gauff.

Program Participants:

LaTunya Creecy, Head of My House, Inc.

Chung-Suk & Alfred Cutno, Chung's Heavenly Sweets, LLC

Richard Edwards, ASAP Monograms, LLC

KaNeedra Fultz, River Region Training and Development Center, LLC

Carlos Tejada,

Cheryl Wallace, Nspirational Treasures, LLC

Gemyra Williams, Spillway Safe Driving Academy, LLC