Building our economic future

We’re one and a half years into something remarkable in north Louisiana – boots-on-the-ground startup economic development.


The support from this community and from the Biomedical Research Foundation (BRF) has allowed theEntrepreneurial Accelerator Program (EAP) to over-deliver on its promises.


To date EAP has vetted 248 portfolio companies in sectors from the oil and gas industry to healthcare.Twenty-four percent of the startup hopefuls with dreams of becoming a sustainable and profitable business have been in technology.


Twelve million dollars in investments have been brought to this local economy through the cultivation and nurturing of startups such as Embera Neuro Therapeutics, which is developing a new drug combination to more effectively treat addiction; Swaybox Studios, bringing groundbreaking new puppet technology for film and TV that’ll shake the industry; and Highly Favored Creations, which has a pet anti-breeding system with the potential to increase the lifespan of our animals. That product is now selling in 75 countries.


At the end of last year, CyberReef Solutions, a secure data transfer technology startup, opened an office in downtown Shreveport. They’re now contracting with Verizon Wireless Network.


The company recently announced $1.3 million in investments – including significant support by northLouisiana’s first angel fund – New Louisiana Angel Fund 1 – as well as angel investors in south Louisiana.Other EAP portfolio companies have been linked by the program to investors as far as Silicon Valley.


Fifty more startups in various stages of moving toward the market are being coached by EAP’s expert team who will move them from analysis of the viability of their product or services to the critical steps of finding investors. EAP is there to match them with that seed money so they enter the market on a firm foundation.


Since EAP began in July 2014, the program has helped to nurture eight new startups who have created39 new jobs with an annual payroll of $1.3 million.

These successes have been accomplished through funding from BRF, the Caddo Parish Commission and the City of Shreveport – all of which recognized the EAP model for what it is, an engine to bring about new industry and economic development in our region.


Long term economic development programs such as EAP nurture high growth startups that will diversify the economy, create jobs and expand our tax base. EAP in 19 months has exceeded its original goals outlined in agreements with the commission and the city, and in a time of recession.


As we look to an uncertain future for the economy of Louisiana, we must not lose sight of the importance of supporting these companies that are the economy of tomorrow.

Bringing revenue and innovation to north Louisiana for the health of our region is a full time job for EAP and we look forward to continuing our work with the next generation of industry leaders and employers of north Louisiana.


Dave R. Smith is executive director of the Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program.