Small Business Challenge

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In the fall of 2023, 1A and partners came together to launch a Small Business Challenge, an effort to spur small business growth and downtown redevelopment, modeled on a similar effort highlighted on 1A’s Leadership Exchange trip to Pensacola in 2022.

The Small Business Challenge capitalized on Lafayette’s strong culture of entrepreneurship with an open competition: the best idea for a great downtown small business would receive a capital infusion of up to $100,000 and a lease to a unique downtown property – the historic Sans Souci Building.

The goals:

  • To promote small business growth and entrepreneurship
  • To activate a prime location in Downtown Lafayette with a dynamic new retail, food & beverage, or other creative business concept
  • To generate foot traffic and sales tax collections
  • To regularly activate Parc Sans Souci outside of special events and complement the focus of making the park a family-friendly year-round destination


The prize:

  • A significant capital infusion of up to $100,000 in tenant support
  • Lease of approximately 1,200 sq ft of historic Downtown commercial space, including soon-to-be-constructed outdoor seating
  • Management and consulting support through the build-out and start-up process
  • Mentorship and training on essential business practices




Round 1: The initial application requested basic information about the applicant and their business concept, along with the components of a “Lean Canvas” – a one-page business plan template that helps deconstruct a business idea into its key assumptions. Opportunity Machine offered a workshop and coaching on how to build a Lean Canvas.

Round 2: A judges panel, comprised of nine distinguished local entrepreneurs and economic developers, selected 20 applicants to proceed to Round 2. In Round 2, the contestants were asked to complete a full business plan via LivePlan. The Louisiana SBDC and LEDA led a series of workshops to coach the contestants on building out their business plan and financials.

Round 3: The judges panel selected seven contestants to move forward to the final round, a Pitch Competition, held on February 9, 2024 at Opportunity Machine. Each contestant had 15 minutes – 5 minutes for presentation and 10 minutes for question and answer. The judges scored the seven finalists on criteria like their business model and concept, downtown alignment and relevance, their team and experience, and their marketing and operational strategy.




After reviewing the scoring from Rounds 1, 2, and 3 and holding a long deliberation, the judges panel could only select one winner… and the winner is… Korey Champagne and Alexis Badon of Magnolia Pantry. 1A held a press conference on February 19, 2024 to make the announcement.

Check out the news coverage:


Magnolia Pantry held a pop-up in front of the Sans Souci Building for Festival International and expects to be fully open by the end of 2024.

In addition to Magnolia Pantry’s win, the Small Business Challenge cultivated multiple fully vetted business opportunities that hold great promise for our area. Shortly after concluding the Small Business Challenge, two other contestants were already in the process of opening their businesses in Downtown Lafayette.

Check out the news on these additional Small Business Challenge success stories:




This challenge is made possible through One Acadiana’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), Opportunity Machine, and the LEED Center at UL Lafayette.

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