Category Archives: News

2015 Accelerator Program

Entrepreneurs striving to develop and grow innovative business enterprises in the coming year can benefit from the I-20 Corridor Regional Accelerator initiative. This program provides training, coaching and networking that facilitates strong and steady progress for new business ventures.

Accelerator participants connect with experienced executives, business professionals, coaches, peers, and potential customers to create a successful business model. Instruction on proven techniques, coaching throughout the startup process, assistance with funding needs and sources, and access to valuable resources is provided. Each entrepreneur is assisted with establishing and executing actions that achieve meaningful progress toward starting the venture.

The Accelerator is effective for individuals assessing the viability of business opportunities, entrepreneurs preparing to launch new enterprises, and existing ventures expanding their operations. Past participants are achieving success and continuing to grow. In 2014, one Accelerator graduate has secured over $1 million in funding, grown revenue by 80%, and increased employment from 14 to 29 workers. Others have received loans, secured equity investment, licensed products, increased revenue, and continued developing.

The program is free but space is limited and applicants must provide a summary of their proposed venture to be considered for the Accelerator. Meetings will be held in Ruston at University Hall on every other Tuesday at 5:30 PM beginning January 13. For more information, email or call (318) 257-3537. To apply for the Accelerator, follow either link below, complete the form, and submit application to or PO Box 3145, Ruston, LA 71272

I-20 Corridor Regional Accelerator Application Forms
Regional Business Accelerator Application Form in Microsoft Word
Regional Business Accelerator Application Form in Adobe
Some applicants are experiencing difficulties with the Adobe form. It may be necessary to open and save your form in Adobe Pro (not the Reader) in order for the content to be retained. We will also be glad to accept a printed copy of your application at the TBDC in the Rawle Enterprise Center at 509 W Alabama or by mail at PO Box 3145, Ruston, LA 71272.

I-20 Regional Accelerator Application

Business Pitch Competition – Won in One!

The Technology Business Development Center is hosting a free business pitch competition on October 29, 2013. The business pitch competition will bring together entrepreneurs/aspiring entrepreneurs, angel investors, and business leaders from across north Louisiana. Each presenter is given sixty seconds to present an elevator pitch to the audience and a panel of judges. Prizes will be awarded to presenters based on judges’ choice and audience vote. The competition will be held at 7:00 p.m. in University Hall on Louisiana Tech campus following the Bulldog Entrepreneurs Top Dawg Idea Pitch Competition. Entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs are encouraged to register in advance, as there are only 30 presentation slots. Those registered before October 15 will be permitted to attend a pitch presentation training session for preparation. Additional registrants will be accepted to pitch in place of potential no-show presenters. For more information call or email Ann Marie Queen at 318-574-5421 or

Register  by emailing or calling Ann Marie Queen or by going to Eventbrite

“From Concept to Marketplace” Workshop

A workshop on the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs

Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013
8 AM until 3 PM

LA Tech University Shreveport Center
8028 Shrevepark Drive, Shreveport, LA


“From Concept to Marketplace”

Louisiana Tech University and the Louisiana Technology Transfer Office are sponsoring a workshop for individuals and organizations interested in performing research and obtaining funds to support proof of concept and prototype development for federal agencies.

The workshop will be conducted by Jim Greenwood, a nationally recognized SBIR/STTR consultant who has helped hundreds of firms improve their proposals and successfully compete for SBIR and STTR awards.

Attendees will receive:

  • an overview of the SBIR/STTR Programs
  • an explanation of the proposal preparation process
  • information about the review process, updates on recent changes in rules/regulations governing these programs, and research commercialization plans
  • information about the LA SBIR Phase Zero Program which offers $2000 in grant monies to qualified Louisiana companies/researchers to help with the cost of preparing and submitting a SBIR/STTR proposal
  • tips for success from SBIR winners
  • information about benefits for university research

This workshop is for select, small technology-oriented companies, entrepreneurs/innovators, and university research faculty/department heads that are capable of engaging in innovative, basic research & development with the specific goal to produce a product for market and one that is needed by the federal government. Innovative small businesses, entrepreneurs, inventors, research faculty, and university department heads that are conducting research and developing novel products or services which the federal government may deem valuable are encouraged to attend.

The first 35 paid attendees will be eligible for a FREE SBIR/STTR proposal review by Greenwood Consulting for up to one year from the workshop date, subject to availability.

Seating is limited and advance registration is required. The registration fee also includes materials and lunch.

Register by August 31 for $25.
Registration received between September 1 and September 11, will be $35.
On-site registration is $50.
Register by emailing, calling (318) 257-3537 or online at

I-20 Corridor Regional Business Accelerator Program

The Regional Business Acceleration program being initiated by Louisiana Tech University and Winrock International, in collaboration with partners throughout north Louisiana, is focused on providing services and support to facilitate rapid growth for business enterprises demonstrating strong potential for the creation of good quality jobs and the attraction of revenue from outside the region. This initiative is designed specifically for encouraging business activities suited to operation in small, rural northern LA communities with an emphasis on developing opportunities in targeted industry clusters which include: information technology and telecommunications, alternative energy and green construction, and biosciences.

Both aspiring entrepreneurs and existing businesses can benefit from Accelerator services and either may apply to participate in the Accelerator program. Individuals selected for the program will receive intensive training, mentoring, and consulting from experienced professionals. Accelerator participants will be guided through the process of developing a funding proposal and presenting their plan to appropriate investors. Eligible businesses will compete for prize packages to support the launch of their enterprises and they will receive continuing support throughout their initial year of operation.

Accelerator Application

Regional Business Accelerator Application Form in Microsoft Word

Regional Business Accelerator Application Fillable Form in Adobe

Please note that up to 8 additional pages may be attached. If your answers do not fit in the space provided, please feel free to attach additional pages.

Information for Accelerator Application

Click Here for a list of links with information that can be helpful with completing the Accelerator Application form

New Venture Plan & Prep

New Venture Plan & Prep

January 19, 2012

Louisiana Tech University
Technology Business Development Center
Ruston, LA

The New Venture Plan and Prep workshop taught participants about the 6 M’s of business startup- Model, Market, Margin, Management, Money, and Motivation. Participants learned how to define each topic, why each is important, and what to do about it or plan for it.

For more information on what was presented during the workshop, check out the links below.

Powerpoint Presentation

Excel Worksheets


Macon Ridge Foods

Macon Ridge Foods

1203 N. 19th Street, Monroe, LA 71203

Established in 2009
Ben Erwin and Josh Raley

Macon Ridge Foods started as an idea pitched during the TOP DAWG Business Plan Competition at Louisiana Tech University. The idea involved a sweet potato muffin and biscuit recipe from Josh Raley’s grandmother, and they called it Dezzie Dough.

Both founders did not have much experience in the food market, but they took a leap of faith into the world of entrepreneurship. They saw the opportunity to break into the industry as the popularity of sweet potatoes was on the rise. But they also knew that they would need more than just a health conscious society to launch their product into the market. Early development discovered the need for great packaging especially when trying to introduce a new product into a grocery store.

So Macon Ridge Foods devoted much of its research into packaging in order to find the right design and look for their product. This research lead them to a packaging design highly utilized in Europe but virtually unknown in the United States. They discovered the “spout pouch” that is essentially a plastic bag with a plastic spout. This piping bag style of packaging offers great convenience for the consumers because now they do not have to deal with all the materials and time needed to prepare fresh baked items. Macon Ridge Foods could now offer this raw ready-to-bake dough in a package that would allow people to “Dollop, Squeeze, and Bake.” Taking this innovative package design, Macon Ridge Foods has expanded its product line deeper into the breakfast food market. They now offer 10 different products that include flavored pancakes, biscuits, and muffins.

The design became the selling point for Dezzie Dough when talking to the grocery stores. In the beginning, Macon Ridge Foods had their test markets in Louisiana and parts of Mississippi and Alabama. Now they have expanded across the Southeast to Virginia and north into Wisconsin and Chicago. The number of stores that carry their product has increased tenfold since the beginning. They hope to continue to further develop these regions while looking towards Texas and Oklahoma and even as far north as Canada.

Having a novel packaging concept does have its drawbacks as Macon Ridge Foods has learned. A unique product has limited manufacturers and suppliers, so now the challenge comes in finding partners to work with you for production. This setback simply added more to the traditional challenges faced when starting a business, but they have taken great strides in overcoming these obstacles.

In developing this business, Erwin has come to value patience. The retail food industry has not offered much instant gratification for this start-up, but success has come nonetheless for it. So he has learned how to set realistic timelines of success for the business. Erwin credits networking as his greatest resource in growing the business. He encourages young entrepreneurs to get to know people in your industry but also those who are familiar with starting a business. “Probably your most valuable resource is just having somebody you can pick up the phone and call… when you have a question.”

Finally Erwin counsels those who have the desire to be “master of their own destiny” or make a difference in your life or the life of others that they need to pursue those entrepreneurial hopes. “No amount of money, no amount of security is ever going to take that passion away from you.”

Written by Chris Tamez December 2011

SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act



Small Business Committee Members: Longevity and Stability for Small Business R&D Programs

NDAA Conference Report includes SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act of 2011.


WASHINGTON – Following the release of the National Defense Authorization Conference Report, Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Mary L. Landrieu, D-La. and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, along with committee members Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Scott Brown, R-Mass., and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., made the following remarks in regard to the reauthorization of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs for another six years.  Prior to this reauthorization, the SBIR program survived through 14 temporary extensions since September 2008 and the STTR program was extended 11 times since September 2009.  

“This has been an uphill battle, but we made it,” Senator Landrieu said.  “First, thanks to Senators Levin and McCain.  With their help, we successfully got a long-term extension included in the version of the National Defense Authorization Act that passed the Senate.  Then, last week, at my request, we had several meetings with our House counterparts to work out the final details and get this agreement done.

“Because of this deal, businesses will have peace of mind for the next six years.  The nation’s innovators will have more access to federal research dollars, and the process by which they get the funding will be more efficient because we cut down the time for final decisions and disbursements.”

“The long-term reauthorization of the SBIR and STTR programs is long overdue.  I have fought since 2006, as Chair of the Small Business Committee, to provide these critical small business initiatives with certainty, and to make significant improvements to them,” Senator Snowe said.  “A six-year reauthorization, increased allocations and award sizes, and the Senate framework on the venture capital compromise all help ensure that these measure remain ‘small business’ programs, which has been my longstanding goal in seeking this reauthorization.  Additionally, continuing these programs will mean more high-paying jobs for families in Maine and elsewhere.  I thank Chair Landrieu for her tireless leadership in this matter, and thank the leaders of the House Small Business and Science Committees for their partnership, as well as leaders of the Armed Services Committees in both chambers.  And I thank Senators Scott Brown and Kelly Ayotte for being key forces in helping us reach this deal.  Their work, as new members of both the Senate Small Business and Armed Services Committees, proved invaluable in getting to yes,” Senator Snowe concluded.

“These programs have helped turn ideas into reality and everyone in America benefits from the resulting advances in medicine, cleaner energy sources and stronger economy.  But our entrepreneurs can’t do it without resources, that’s why it makes sense to reauthorize these programs and keep America on the cutting edge of innovation,” Senator Kerry said.

“Small businesses are the backbone of New Hampshire’s economy and we need to support their efforts to grow, create new jobs, and remain competitive in today’s global economy,” Senator Shaheen said. “Innovation is key to American success, and SBIR has provided a critical boost to many innovative small companies that have gone on find to great success. As a member of the Senate Small Business Committee, I am committed to working with my colleagues to get a long-term reauthorization of the SBIR program signed into law.”

“I’m thrilled that the SBIR and STTR programs have finally been reauthorized for the businesses and jobs that rely on them.  I was proud to join other Senate Small Business Committee members in fighting for the program’s preservation,” Senator Brown said.  I’m pleased that two of my original amendments were included in the package, including requirements on agencies to reduce the paperwork burden on small businesses and to respond to applicants within 90 days so that small businesses in Massachusetts are not waiting indefinitely.  I am confident this reauthorization will give this successful jobs program and small businesses the security they so badly need.”

“SBIR provides tremendous opportunities to America’s small businesses, generating increased growth and supporting their innovative contributions to our national security,” Senator Ayotte said.  “I’m pleased that Senate and House conferees have approved a long-term reauthorization of this important program.”

During the Senate’s consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act, nearly 400 amendments were considered and only eight of them received votes.  The amendment to reauthorize SBIR/STTR was one of those eight, and had such strong support in the Senate that it was unanimously agreed to by voice vote.


Key provisions in the conference report include:

·       reauthorizing SBIR and STTR for six years, 

·       increasing the SBIR allocation from 2.5 percent to 3.2 percent over several years,

·       increasing the  STTR allocation from .3 percent to .45 percent over six years,

·       increasing VC participation to 25 percent for NIH, DOE, and NSF, and 15 percent for other agencies,

·       shortening the time for final decisions to 90 days,

·       shortening the amount of time between decision and release of funds, with flexibility for the NIH, and

·       allowing the agencies to use 3 percent of SBIR funds to administer SBIR programs, increase oversight, and provide outreach and application assistance to address shortcomings in the low participation of women, minorities and states with few awards.


Enacted by Congress in 1982, the SBIR program is the largest federal research and development program for small businesses and one of the largest examples of U.S. public-private partnerships.  The program allows small businesses to compete for a portion of federal research dollars in order to help the agencies meet their many missions.  By including small businesses in the nation’s R&D efforts, SBIR grants and contracts are intended to stimulate innovative solutions to help the agencies meet specific research and development needs, and move the ideas from lab to market, whether for the government or commercial purposes. 




Save the Date

Come and check out the 30th Annual Ag Expo on January 20 & 21 in Monroe at the IKE Hamilton Expo Center. The TBDC will be there along with Agriculture businesses and technologies showcasing the latest in incentives and innovations. Don’t miss it.

For more information go to the event website. AG EXPO 2012

Sawyer Industrial Plastics, Inc

Sawyer Industrial Plastics, Inc.
100 Enterprise Street, West Monroe, Louisiana 71292
Established 1977
Current Owners:
Deborah (Debbie) Sawyer & William (Bill) D. Sawyer, Jr.
Sawyer Industrial Plastics Incorporated was founded in 1977 by William Sawyer Sr. and Ed
Nolan. They started this business as a coal laundering business, but it was William Sawyer Jr.,
Bill, who saw a need for material in the paper industry, and proposed the company fill this
need. It has now been supplying components and manufacturing materials for the paper
industry for over 30 years.
The company manufactures a composite material that is used inside the suction roll of a large
paper machine. The material is machined and grouped with other items to create a rebuild kit.
The suction roll is a maintenance item that is rebuilt on a regular basis. What makes the
material unique is that it is specifically designed for the environment in which it is used. The
suction roll has a strip of Teflon that is installed, which is a patented idea that helps the wear of
the material much better than other products.
Sawyer Plastics utilized global expansion to aid in sustaining the business and overcoming
economic downturns. Sawyer began exporting products to Mexico and Canada in 1980. Then in
1996, exportation expanded to customers in Asia, Europe, South America, Africa, and Australia.
Sawyer has representatives in India, China, and Spain with distributors in Italy and Germany.
Having a presence in these countries provides Sawyer with more consistent export sales to
these areas of the world. In order to facilitate global expansion, Sawyer hired a new sales
manager and upgraded its IT services. Such advances were able to be made through
reorganizing the day to day functions of personnel and making duties more specific, as well as
through training and improving the education level of the managers. The company has seen a
15% increase in sales in 2011 due to the international market. Although the company did
experience some challenges, the biggest being the lack of funding support for growth, progress
was nonetheless able to be made.
Bill and Debbie tell entrepreneurs and small business owners to never stop learning and seeking
outside help and knowledge.
Debbie said. “With the current economic climate, the uncertainty of health care, and the
increased tax burdens to small businesses, they need to seek advice from knowledgeable
people. Find a mentor, ask another successful business owner, read, take classes … continue to
grow and find tools that will help manage the business better!”


Written by Crystal McCants on August 1, 2011