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UL Lafayette LEED Center, LEDA Partner for Expansion of Accelerate Northside Program, New Entrepreneurial Programming

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The Louisiana Entrepreneurship & Economic Development (LEED) Center within the B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration at UL Lafayette and the Lafayette Economic Development Authority (LEDA) have established a partnership to continue the LEED Center’s successful Accelerate Northside program and expand it to include new entrepreneurial programming.

This partnership will enable the LEED Center, originally established with funding from U.S. Economic Development Administration, to broaden its offerings to include an Accelerate Mentoring Program and an Accelerate Female Entrepreneurship Program. This will deepen the center’s impact and expand its reach into more segments of the small business community.

“Small business is the lifeblood of Lafayette’s economy and a core component of LEDA’s new economic development strategic plan and programming,” said Mandi D. Mitchell, president and CEO of LEDA.  “The abundance of existing small businesses and new startups speaks to the entrepreneurial spirit and the foundation of our culture here in Lafayette Parish. We are thrilled to partner with and support the LEED Center with a common goal to expand the diverse cross-section of businesses and business owners the organizations assist.”

“I am honored to have been able to secure the state funding needed to make this most impactful partnership a reality,” said state Sen. Gerald Boudreaux. “I couldn’t be more pleased to see LEDA – under new leadership and with a broadened strategic focus – team up with the UL LEED Center in this way. This partnership between the University and LEDA to expand Accelerate Northside allows entrepreneurs in North Lafayette to innovate, problem-solve, and follow their dreams. The technical assistance and support provided to these individuals will ultimately strengthen and diversify our economy in an inclusive manner – building a better Lafayette, Acadiana, and Louisiana.”

Accelerate Northside, a start-up and small business program that began in 2021, helps entrepreneurs who are economically disadvantaged create and/or grow their own businesses. The LEED Center has hosted three program cohorts in the last 18 months. In total, over 130 existing and aspiring business owners have completed the six-week program and more than 30 new companies have been established.

Dr. Geoffrey Stewart, director of LEED and the Moody Company/BORSF Endowed Chair in Regional Business Development at UL Lafayette, said Accelerate Northside’s momentum “is a testament to the collaboration and community established within our first three cohorts of entrepreneurs.”

“Our LEED Center and Moody College team are delighted to have LEDA as our partner in continuing Accelerate Northside and look forward to helping further establish Lafayette as a vibrant, accessible hub for innovation and entrepreneurship,” said “The LEED Center also extends its thanks to Senator Gerald Boudreaux for spearheading state funding, which will allow us to continue doing this important work,” Stewart added.

Accelerate Northside includes six weeks of training, opportunities for mentorships with successful entrepreneurs, one-on-one consulting during and after the program, and connections to community resources.

The next session will take place on six consecutive Thursday evenings, Oct. 13 to Nov. 17, from 5 to 9 p.m. A waiver, for which most participants are eligible, covers $425 of the $450 program registration fee.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there are more than 470,000 small businesses in Louisiana. There are nearly 20,000 businesses in Lafayette Parish with fewer than 20 employees, according to ReferenceUSAGov, a business database.

Eligible Accelerate applicants should be existing business owners seeking assistance with growth strategies and individuals who have a business idea or who want to turn a hobby or side job into a full-time business. Applications must be received by Oct. 11, but walk-ups are welcome on Oct. 13 if space is available. For more information and the online application, visit