Class of 25 entrepreneurs readies for business world

Published 12:10 am Wednesday, June 3, 2015

RESERVE — St. John the Baptist Parish recently graduated its largest class of business owners from the Kauffman Foundation FastTrac Entrepreneurial Training Program.

The award-winning program is offered through the St. John Business Training Center and is housed at Reserve’s South Central Louisiana Technical College, River Parishes Campus.

“We are extremely pleased with the success of the program in meeting the needs of local business owners and providing them with best practices in entrepreneurialism,” Parish President Natalie Robottom said.

The program graduated a class of 24 this spring.

Robottom said FastTrac provides assistance to new and existing business owners considering expansion and allows them to leave with actionable business plans.

In addition to being the largest graduating class, the number of family members on hand to celebrate with graduates was also the largest to date, officials said.

“My classmates and I are extremely thankful for the opportunity and all that has been given to us, and we are ready to put what we learned into action,” said Valencia Green, a 25-year business owner of Terence Day Care, who signed up for the program to create networking and marketing opportunities.

FastTrac is a nationally recognized entrepreneurial training program developed by the Kaufman Foundation.

The program includes ten sessions of approximately 40-50 hours of training over ten weeks. Each session includes facilitated activities and group discussions on multiple business topics, a guest speaker related to each topic, networking, coaching sessions and wrap up and action steps.

“This is, without a doubt, the best training I have ever had,” said James Anthony, 2015 graduate and owner of Power Products Enterprises LLC.

Throughout the program, participants are provided assistance with business plans, business and financial skills and tools with strategies for immediate implementation. Participants are eligible to apply for funding assistance and business loans and have access to a program workbook and online FastTrac toolkit for life.

Laverne Saulny of the parish’s Economic Development Department said organizers lauded the program’s support for aspiring entrepreneurs creating successful businesses.

“The successful completion of the FastTrac program by each business owner is a testament to the economic impact that can be created when parish and state officials work hand in hand,” Saulny said.

Robottom said graduates would be offered additional training opportunities through the parish’s Business Training Center and Economic Development Department.

The newest class of business owners was joined May 27 by Robottom, Council members Lucien Gauff and Jaclyn Hotard, Director of Louisiana Small Business Development Center Carmen Sunda, Business Continuity Consultant Wayne Aucoin and John Matthews, Louisiana Economic Development executive director of entrepreneurial services, for the graduation ceremony.

The guest speaker was Phyllis Cassidy, executive director and founder of Good Works Network.

FastTrac is funded in part through a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement with St. John Parish’s Economic Development Department, Louisiana Economic Development-Small and Emerging Business Development Program, Louisiana Small Business Development Center and the South Central Louisiana Technical College, River Parishes Campus. Officials said the educational program is valued at $1,125, and class participants pay $100 to take part in the course.

Visit the website calendar at to view information on upcoming Economic Development Workshops.

Applications for the fall 2015 FastTrac session will be accepted in July, and for more information or to apply, contact the Office of Economic Development at 985-652-9569 or through email at