St. John The Baptist Parish News Release

Local Entrepreneurs Graduate from FastTrac Program

Local Entrepreneurs Graduate from FastTrac Program

Friday, December 5, 2014

St. John the Baptist Parish - Five local entrepreneurs recently became the second graduating class from the FastTrac Entrepreneurial Training Program.  The program is  offered through the St. John Business Training Center housed at the South Central Louisiana (SCL) Technical College, River Parishes Campus. Parish President Natalie Robottom, John Matthews, Jr. Louisiana Economic Development (LED) Executive Director of Small Business Services,  Dianne Sclafani, Small Business Development Center (SBDC)  Business Consultant , Cindy Poskey SCL Dean, St. John Economic Development Committee members and family members were on hand for the program.  “We remain committed to bringing resources to the parish to help our business owners succeed,” said President Robottom.  “We are confident that this program will provide local business owners with the tools and resources necessary to be succeed in their dreams.”

FastTrac is a nationally recognized training program developed by the Kaufman Foundation, a leader in entrepreneurship. Through FastTrac, participants are provided information to help them respond to changes that can impact their business, to build an actionable business plan and to implement that plan to facilitate success of their business. “Through coordination and collaboration with great partners such as St. John Parish, SBDC, LED and SCL college, residents are given invaluable opportunities to excel and expand their businesses, ultimately creating jobs,” said Dianne Sclafani.  

The program includes ten sessions for approximately 30 hours of training over a one month period. Each session includes facilitated activities and group discussions, guest speakers, networking, coaching sessions and action steps. "Every small business owner needs to take advantage of this opportunity,” said Avis White, of Avis’ Kitchen. “I know how to cook with my eyes closed, but through the program, I learned about financing, marketing, writing business plans and more.” All sessions were led by Dr. Mike Cusack, LSBDC Senior Business Consultant and Certified FastTrac Trainer and Lead Faculty and Wayne Aucoin, LSBDC Business Consultant and Business Continuity Specialist. Graduates have lifetime access to the online FastTrac Toolkit and follow-up assistance with their business plans.  “FastTrac prepared me for challenges I may face with my business and put me on a direct path to success,” said Akeem Burl, class participant and founder of A Touch of Akeem.

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 responsible for $100 of the program fee. John Mathews Jr. committed to extending the FastTrac contract for another year, encouraging the graduates to continue learning:  “It doesn’t stop here, figure out the next step, use the resources given to you, and don’t operate in a vacuum, continue improving.” A new FastTrac session will be held in the Spring of 2015.

Program Participants:

Akeem Burl, A Touch of Akeem

Ann Clement, LaPlace Memorial Gardens, Inc

LaShunda Coleman, LC Learning Center

Tiffany Nelson, Top T Enterprises

Avis White, Avis’ Kitchen