1A Announces Small Business Challenge Winner

by | Feb 19, 2024 | Business Development, Investors, One Acadiana News, Vibrant Acadiana

LAFAYETTE, LA – One Acadiana (1A) is thrilled to announce the winner of the Small Business Challenge, an initiative aimed at fostering small business growth, while bolstering vibrancy and foot traffic in Downtown Lafayette.

After an intensive selection process, Korey Champagne and Alexis Badon of Magnolia Pantry emerged victorious, poised to infuse new energy into our region’s urban core.

The Small Business Challenge, a part of 1A’s Vibrant Acadiana initiative, invited entrepreneurs to submit their business ideas to activate a prime location in Downtown Lafayette with a dynamic food & beverage, retail, or other creative business concept. The contestants were incentivized with a significant capital infusion of up to $100,000 and a lease to the historic Sans Souci Building.

Kevin Blanchard, CEO of Downtown Development Authority/Downtown Lafayette Unlimited (DDA/DLU), remarked, “This building has had so many lives over the years and been home to many beloved local businesses — and Magnolia Pantry is next. But today isn’t only a celebration of a new chapter for the building. With Parc Sans Souci, the new playground, Ashby Crossing, the Children’s Museum, and all the great locally owned restaurants and retailers, Vermilion Street is becoming one of Downtown Lafayette’s most vibrant locations.”

Champagne and Badon are thrilled to introduce Magnolia Pantry to Downtown Lafayette, where they will serve sweet and savory pies alongside uniquely curated drinks, including teas, lemonades, coffee, and cocktails. With a focus on providing a family-friendly environment and prompt service, Magnolia Pantry’s offerings are perfect for enjoying during a park picnic or a leisurely exploration of downtown.

“Magnolia Pantry’s presence will contribute to the energetic entrepreneurial ecosystem that thrives in Downtown Lafayette,” said Mandi D. Mitchell, President and CEO, Lafayette Economic Development Authority. “The Downtown district remains a strong business center in Lafayette Parish, and LEDA is committed to working with the DDA, DLU, and LPTFA to attract and grow businesses in the district that will enhance the region’s exceptional quality of life.”

Troy Wayman, president and CEO of One Acadiana, emphasizes the importance of fostering vibrancy in Acadiana’s urban core. “One Acadiana remains committed to leading initiatives like the Small Business Challenge,” Wayman stated, “which underscore our dedication to fostering dynamic and resilient urban spaces, ensuring that Acadiana’s regional core thrives as a hub of innovation, culture, and economic activity. We congratulate Magnolia Pantry and we eagerly anticipate their positive impact on Downtown Lafayette.”

A total of 33 business ideas were submitted, and from these, 20 contestants advanced to Round 2. During this phase, contestants took part in business development workshops, discussed financing options, and submitted comprehensive business plans.

Out of the Round 2 contestants, 7 finalists advanced to a pitch competition, presenting to a panel of 9 local entrepreneurs and economic developers. Pitches were assessed on criteria including the business concept’s strength, downtown alignment and relevance, team expertise, and marketing/operational strategy effectiveness.

In highlighting the broader significance of the Small Business Challenge, Destin Ortego, Executive Director of Opportunity Machine, emphasized, “Even though only one company will occupy the Sans Souci premises, the challenge has illuminated the potential for multiple ventures ready to be launched, promising to contribute immensely to our downtown’s economic and cultural richness.”

The Small Business Challenge was made possible through 1A’s investors, in partnership with Downtown Development Authority, Lafayette Public Trust Financing Authority (LPTFA), Lafayette Economic Development Authority (LEDA), the Louisiana Small Business Development Center (LSBDC), and Opportunity Machine.

About One Acadiana
One Acadiana is the chamber of commerce for Lafayette and the leading economic development organization for the nine-parish Acadiana region located in south Louisiana. With more than 800 investors, members, and partners, One Acadiana serves as the voice of the regional business community. The organization is based in the city of Lafayette and serves a region of roughly 700,000 people with a vibrant culture and unique entrepreneurial spirit. Learn more at OneAcadiana.org.