Baton Rouge, La.
Charles F. D’Agostino, executive director
The problem: Small business owners and entrepreneurs in rural Louisiana lacked access to the resources and networks necessary to develop successful businesses. The Louisiana Business & Technology Center at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge recognized the need to help potential clients whose locations prevented them from taking advantage of LBTC’s services.
The solution: LBTC implemented the Incubator on Wheels program in 2005 to bring business development services to residents of rural Louisiana. Known as the Driving Louisiana’s Economy initiative, the Incubator on Wheels is an 18-wheel mobile classroom, replete with state-of-the-art audio/visual capabilities, a large plasma screen monitor and broadband wireless Internet connection. The mobile incubator has focused on business recovery and development in areas devastated by hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, and Gustav and Ike in 2008. In the aftermath of these storms, the Incubator on Wheels reached disaster areas before telephone and Internet lines were repaired and offered Internet access to businesses through satellite connections and laptop computers.
The classroom seats up to 24 people for workshops on topics such as how to start a business, leadership development, entrepreneurship training, business planning, marketing, and access to capital. In conjunction with local partners — including chambers of commerce, Small Business Development Centers and incubators — LBTC schedules workshops and seminars over three or four days. "This program brings services to entrepreneurs who normally don’t have access to quality incubation programs and counseling," says Charles D’Agostino, LBTC executive director. "Once the Incubator on Wheels whets their appetite, LBTC offers quality follow-up services and places entrepreneurs in its incubator or in other incubators located closer to the entrepreneur."
Phone: (740) 593-4331
Fax: (740) 593-1996
PO Box 959
Athens, OH 45701-1565