GONZALES — A new business incubator with space for seven entrepreneurs will open in October at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center.
Those hoping to make make their business dreams come true will get one-on-one and group entrepreneurship training — on how to run a business successfully — along with access to office resources like wireless internet capabilities and a printer.
“They’ll run their business at the point where they are,” said Lee Melancon, acting executive director of the nonprofit organization Microbusiness Enterprise Corp. of Ascension, known as MBECA.
The nonprofit has partnered with the Ascension Parish government to bring the incubator — a reception area, seven cubicles and a large conference table, along with standard office equipment — to a large room on the first floor of the Ascension Gym building on the grounds of the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center on South St. Landry Avenue near Gonzales.
A ribbon-cutting for the business incubator is scheduled Oct. 24.
“It’s supposed to help new entrepreneurs get started in business, and Ascension Parish is 100 percent behind that,” Parish President Kenny Matassa said. “We’ll help in every way we can.”
Melancon, who’s also director of the Donaldsonville Downtown Development District, said, “We believe by giving startups a sense of ‘reality’ in their actual day-to-day business operations that they may take advantage of the entrepreneurial ‘eco-system.'”
That system, he said, includes fellow entrepreneurs and trained professionals.
There will be an application process for those interested in the incubator, which isn’t geared to any particular field or industry, Melancon said. They will pay a monthly rental fee from $200 to $300 per month, he said.
The nonprofit behind the incubator, MBECA, was founded in 2003 to provide managerial, technical and entrepreneurship training for new startups and small businesses in Ascension, St. James, Iberville and Assumption parishes.
MBECA works with the Louisiana Economic Development Department on a number of programs and services, Melancon said.
The new incubator will be called the LEAP Center (for Louisiana Entrepreneur Accelerator Program).
The nonprofit Ascension Economic Development Corp., which works to bring economic development to the parish, will help to promote the new incubator, Melancon said.
Entrepreneurs interested in being in the incubator should call (225) 752-1455 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The first year of a business is “quite critical,” Melancon said. “We know that if we can guide them through it more closely, we will have more success in the parish.”
Follow Ellyn Couvillion on Twitter, @EllynCouvillion.