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The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is a partner in a new initiative that aims to help small businesses grow.

The application deadline is July 23 for Accelerate Acadiana, a collaboration among UL Lafayette, the Lafayette Economic Development Authority and the Community Foundation of Acadiana’s INNOV8. A $700,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration funds the program.

Eight businesses will be chosen. The free 14-week course will help business owners build relationships with investors, enable them to receive guidance from mentors and provide funding that could take their company to the next level.

“The whole idea behind Accelerate Acadiana is to provide resources a small business needs to become a medium or large business,” said Dr. Keith Credo, an associate professor of management in the B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration.

“Some small companies reach a plateau, but with the help of expert coaching, coursework and investment, those companies can become a lot bigger. That’s what an accelerator is supposed to do. In a short period of time, these companies come out with investors interested in them and with the expertise they need to be successful,” Credo said. 

Accelerate Acadiana begins in August and will run parallel to the University’s fall semester. This will enable students who are enrolled in entrepreneurship courses to collaborate with the program’s participants.

“These interactions might be the first steps a student takes toward an internship or job, or perhaps spark an idea where students create their own startups,” Credo said.

“Accelerators have had a positive economic impact on the regions where they are located,” he added. “When entrepreneurial activity is sparked through initiatives like these, we can expect an even more pronounced long-term effect on the region. That makes programs like Accelerate Acadiana and UL Lafayette’s involvement all the more exciting.”

For information or to apply, visit https://innov8acadiana.org/accelerate-acadiana/

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