Accelerate Vermilion Program Launch

University of Louisiana at Lafayette educators and community business leaders are coordinating the Accelerate Vermilion program to help spur entrepreneurial and economic development efforts in Vermilion Parish.

UL Lafayette’s Louisiana Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Center, the Vermilion Economic Development Alliance, and Nehemiah Projects of Acadiana will lead the 3-week initiative.

Accelerate Vermilion is part of an 18-month initiative that LEED has coordinated to help bolster economic development in several regions of Acadiana, including rural areas.

The efforts are being augmented by $300,000 grant awarded to the LEED Center by the U.S. Economic Development Administration. The center supports small businesses, entrepreneurs, and economic development agencies across the state.

“Accelerate Vermilion is an opportunity for anyone dreaming of starting a business or anyone wishing to improve their current small business to engage in three sessions that are designed to help entrepreneurs grow.   Working with Anne Falgout at the Vermilion Economic Development Alliance and Kenneth Campbell at The Nehemiah Projects of Acadiana Inc. will help to build a program that is sustainable and one that lasts beyond the scope of this grant.  Finally, entrepreneurship is about empowerment, and it is an honor to collaborate with citizens and community leaders that are seeking to build economy, jobs, and momentum through the growth of new businesses.” said UL Lafayette’s Dr. Geoffrey Stewart. He directs the LEED Center and is the Moody Company/BORSF Endowed Chair in Regional Business Development.

Accelerate Vermilion will include workshops that will be held on three consecutive Wednesdays, February 9th, 16th, and 23rd, and covers topics such as business planning, financial resources and support, and marketing. The events will be held at the Abbeville Event Center, 1907 Veterans’ Memorial Dr. Abbeville, LA 70510.

“We formed the Nehemiah Projects of Acadiana to improve the lives of individuals, families and the communities as a whole. Our goal is to promote educational opportunities in every aspect of life. I know Accelerate Vermilion will be a giant step in the right direction.” – Kenneth Campbell, Nehemiah Projects of Acadiana.

Following the three-week kickstart program, participants will receive continued support from the LEED Center as well as local economic development entities such as Vermilion Economic Development Alliance.  The continued support for businesses is critical, particularly in the areas of management, finances, and marketing strategies.

“Giving entrepreneurs this kind of hands-on help can not only fast-track a business idea, but also generate a momentum that the whole community can feel! We are excited to partner with the LEED Center to bring this transformative experience to Vermilion.” - Anne Falgout, VEDA Executive Director

Cost to attend ‘Accelerate Vermilion’ is $450, although scholarships of up to $425 are available to applicants with financial need. For more information, contact Jonathan Shirley at


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