Meet 13 Small Business Owners Poised for Major Growth
Last week, the New Orleans Business Alliance launched its inaugural cohort of the InvestNOLA program, designed to grow small businesses owned by entrepreneurs of color into enterprises with $10 million in revenue. Altogether, 13 local entrepreneurs joined the initiative and could create significant organic business growth in the city.
“The launch of this program and its inaugural cohort represents the first step in an overdue journey for the New Orleans business community and highlights incredible business owners who could further improve the trajectory of the city’s business climate. In a majority people of color city, growing the businesses owned by entrepreneurs of color is beneficial to all New Orleanians and reflects the rich diversity here. This is economic development reimagined,” said Quentin L. Messer, Jr., president and CEO of the New Orleans Business Alliance. “We thank our partners for joining us in offering ambitious and hardworking local entrepreneurs access to opportunities and some of America’s leading business minds.”
The InvestNOLA program is designed to accelerate expansion in high-growth potential businesses through public- and private-sector opportunities, innovative capital products and advanced business-management education developed by Tulane and Xavier Universities.
Launched in June 2019, InvestNOLA is the local version of the national small business growth program, Ascend, funded by a $500,000 investment from JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Meet the business leaders and their companies in the inaugural InvestNOLA cohort:
- Charles West: Square Button Consulting
- Marseyas Fernandez, Sr.: MSF Global
- Michelle Gobert: Image 360
- Jasminne Navarre: Rhodes Family of Businesses
- Alfonso Gonzalez II: Corporate Business Supplies
- Gretchen Chase: Chase Hospitality Group
- Krista Pouncy-Dyson: Performance First Digital
- Nathanael Scales: Garden Doctors
- Vern Keeler, Jr.: Vern Keeler & Associates
- Bernard H. Robertson III: Hackett Robertson Tobe Group
- Iam Christian Tucker: ILSI Engineering
- Otis Tucker: Trucking Innovation
- Hugh Blackwell: Blackstar Diversified Enterprises
“Making meaningful progress on an issue as critical as improving economic opportunity and mobility requires a thoughtful and intentional approach. That’s why it is so important to bring together this class of African-American business owners to participate in Executive Education led by Xavier and Tulane universities. I am confident the growth of these 13 firms will make a lasting impact on our community and will fundamentally change the way we support African-American businesses in New Orleans,” said Greg Rattler, executive director in JPMorgan Chase’s government banking division.
Managed by the Business Alliance, the program connects business owners to public and private sector procurement opportunities through the Business Alliance’s new online Opportunities Portal. And, over the course of five months, participants will receive executive level business-management development training concerning growth strategies; marketing; innovation; sales and marketing trends; financial analysis, forecasting and planning; and operations.
Also, the initiative will offer flexible credit and equity investments through financial partners New Corp Inc., TruFund Financial Services, Inc. and LiftFund. The New Orleans Start-up Fund and the NO/LA Angel Network will provide investment capital to eligible participants.
“With this cohort, we will put our commitment to creating an equitable New Orleans economy into action for businesses and business leaders,” said Tulane President Mike Fitts. “Tulane is proud to be a part of this initial InvestNOLA effort, and we’re confident that by working with our partners, we will create a better city for all.”
“Xavier proudly empowers people of color to be successful in various industries, to contribute to the development and growth of local minority businesses and to expand the economy in our communities for the benefit of generations to come,” said Dr. Reynold Verret, president of Xavier University of Louisiana. “InvestNOLA will influence our economy in profound ways, and we’re proud to offer executive business education and management training to local entrepreneurs of color.”
About the New Orleans Business Alliance
One of fewer than 70 Accredited Economic Development Organizations worldwide, the New Orleans Business Alliance is the official 501(c)(3) non-profit economic development organization created as the partnership between the City of New Orleans and the business community to enhance the economic security of all New Orleanians by diversifying the local economy, developing local talent and expanding entrepreneurial opportunity.Through an inclusive economic development strategy, we will create the perfect intersection of culture and commerce resulting in more equity and greater prosperity for all. Learn more at nolaba.org.