Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance


Business Micro-Lending Supports Small Enterprises in Central Louisiana

admin | 31st May, 2018
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Business Micro-Lending Supports Small Enterprises in Central Louisiana

A partnership between the Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance (CLEDA), and Communities Unlimited, Inc. (CU), serves local start-ups with expert technical assistance and access to small business micro-loans.


ALEXANDRIA, LA, May 30, 2018 – In February of 2018 CLEDA and CU signed a Memorandum of Understanding to pair CLEDA’s expert technical assistance and wrap around business services with access to business micro-loan opportunities from CU. CU is able to offer loans because of its designation by the U.S. Treasury as a CDFI (Community Development Financial Institution). This partnership
serves entrepreneurs who are participating in CLEDA’s programs throughout the ten-parish region, and is part of a larger system that builds communities of successful businesses that become mainstream banking clients. CLEDA and CU specifically work with entrepreneurs who can’t qualify for mainstream financial
products without dedicated assistance.


In May of 2018 this partnership made its first loan to a small local business; From the Ground, LLC, (Vernon Parish) owned and operated by Patti and Fredie Manes. This small business loan has made it possible for the owners to purchase two high tunnels (low-tech greenhouses) to expand production on their small organic farm. This expansion will help them meet the ever-rising demand for access to fresh, healthy, local food in central Louisiana. From the Ground sells fresh produce directly to consumers and participates in both the Alexandria Farmers Market (Tuesdays year-round 3-6 pm) and the Lafayette Farmers & Artisan Market (Saturdays year-round 8-Noon).
Gary Perkins, Director of the Business Acceleration System at CLEDA, was excited to see the amazing growth and accomplishments of these local entrepreneurs and points out that they are purchasing high tunnels from a local business, JCM Greenhouse Mfg. in Forest Hill, LA; owned and operated by Cody and Christine Meshell, who are successful graduates of CLEDA’s business services programs themselves. The entire process was coordinated closely with the USDA NRCS, and the field agent Adam Malcolm, working with the Manes’ farm, is a graduate of the Louisiana Food Fellowes Program that is part of the Fresh Central Local Food Initiatives at CLEDA. Demonstrating how interconnected rural revitalization is and the importance of cross-collaboration to provide wrap-around care and supportive services for the success of entrepreneurs.


CLEDA has a long history of providing effective business services for central Louisiana entrepreneurs. No matter where you are on the spectrum of entrepreneurship (Idea → Side hustle → start-up → small-business → big-business → high-growth business), CLEDA Business Services has tools, resources and programs to help you grow and thrive. The latest partnership with CU will greatly expand the impact of programming and services as we work collaboratively to:
• Speed the development of entrepreneurs
• Guide entrepreneurs to the knowledge they need to grow their companies
• Increase business revenues and build the Central Louisiana economy
• Multi-faceted approach
– One-on-one coaching
– Expert technical assistance
– Classroom learning
– Web-based instruction
• Specializing in services for business owners who are willing to change, willing to work hard, willing to collaborate, and who are ready for exceptional results.
• Increase small business bankability with financial literacy, credit repair, and banking skills development.


Communities Unlimited, Inc. (CU)
Communities Unlimited is a 501(c)3 nonprofit community development organization providing resources across seven southern states in support of locally-led initiatives to improve the lives of those that live and work in rural communities and neighborhoods within larger urban areas. CU combines fundamental infrastructure improvement with entrepreneurial growth strategies to move rural places along a trajectory toward prosperity. We accomplish this through local on-site technical assistance, training, lending, GIS mapping services and strategic partnerships. Communities Unlimited, Inc. is an equal opportunity employer, lender, and provider. Learn more at www.CommunitiesU.org


The Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance (CLEDA) is an organization which consists of the economic development entities from the parishes (counties) of Allen, Avoyelles, Catahoula, Concordia, Grant, LaSalle, Natchitoches, Rapides, Vernon and Winn. The mission of the Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance is to help people prosper in vibrant, thriving communities. www.cenla.org and www.freshcentral.org . CLEDA programs are supported in part by Keller Enterprises, LLC, The Rapides Foundation, USDA-Natural Resource Conservation Service, and Capital One.


Media Contacts:
Bahia Nightengale
Director of Local Food Initiatives
Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance
Phone: 318-441-3408

Deborah Temple
Director of Lending
Communities Unlimited, Inc.