StartCentral, an innovative program for new and potential entrepreneurs, is offering a six-part training series that will help Central Louisiana residents take their dreams of owning a business to reality.

“Exploring Your Small Business Dream” is a free, six-week training series that runs on Thursday evenings from April 2 to May 7. This training series is the first under StartCentral, a program offered by the Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance and funded by The Rapides Foundation.

Focused on helping launch the dream of business ownership and building a culture of entrepreneurship, StartCentral offers training, mentorship, coaching and other resources to new and potential entrepreneurs in Central Louisiana.

“We encourage anyone who has an idea for a startup, or who just started a business, to sign up for these sessions,” said Jim Clinton, president and CEO of CLEDA. “While the Business Acceleration System focuses on current entrepreneurs who want to take their businesses to the next level, StartCentral offers training, coaching and help for entrepreneurs who are just starting out.”

Clinton also said building the region’s entrepreneurial capacity through StartCentral and BAS is an important part of CLEDA’s work. There are more than 28 million small businesses in the United States, but they average less than two employees per business. “The key to creating jobs and wealth is to focus on small businesses with significant growth potential,” Clinton said. “BAS and StartCentral are designed to help entrepreneurs at all levels, and the end result is growth for the region.”

“Exploring Your Small Business Dream” is intended to provide a foundation for creating and launching a business dream. Sessions will be practical and hands on, covering such topics as testing and validating your business idea, setting up your business, managing cash flow and other finances, and branding and marketing. After completion of the course, participants will meet monthly for networking and group coaching.

Classes will be held on Thursdays from 5:30-8:30 p.m. on April 2, April 9, April 16, April 23, April 30 and May 7. Sessions will be at the CLEDA offices, 1118 Third Street, Alexandria.

To register for this free series, visit