LSBDC at ULM honors, awards area business leaders

Northeast Louisiana business success isn’t something to overlook because there are some small business doing a lot of big things. And rightfully so, the Louisiana Small Business Development Center (LSBDC) at ULM honored and awarded six business leaders in May at a Small Business Celebration at ULM.

Louisiana Small Business Development Center at the University of Louisiana at Monroe hosts a Small Business Celebration Monday, May 11, 2015, to honor outstanding entrepreneurs and community leaders for their achievements in small business development.

The LSBDC at ULM recognized Patrick May, of Central Federal Credit Union in Monroe, as Financial Services Champion; Millie Atkins, of CenturyLink in Monroe, as Community Champion; Le’Montio Hobdy, of Monte Farms in Winnfield, with the Rising Star Award; and the Entrepreneurial Award to: Thomas Smith, of Cheeks AirWorx in West Monroe; ULM graduate Ieshea Jones of Direnzic Technology & Consulting in Monroe; and Troy Downs, of Downs Enterprise in Bastrop.

LSBDC at ULM Senior Business consultant Virendra Chhikara said the honorees are well deserving of the recognition they earned.

“Each of them has truly been an asset to the LSBDC and we are glad to be able to support them in their business and community success,” Chhikara said.

The recipients show the LSBDC’s diversity, impact and success.

The LSBDC presented the Rising Star Award to Hobdy of Monte Farmsin Winnfield. Monte Farms is a heritage breed, pasture raised pork and pastured poultry farm based in Winnfield. Since starting his business in 2014, Hobdy has quickly experienced vast success as he supplies to some of Louisiana’s top-ranked eateries, including Monroe’s own, Cotton; as well as restaurants owned by the world-renowned restaurateur Dickie Brennan of New Orleans.

As the Financial Services Champion, May of Centric Federal Credit Union has shown a passion to help small businesses thrive. May empowers his clients by providing them with the necessary tools and resources to help them gain access to capital. Over the years, May has referred several small businesses to the LSBDC, which has helped them improve business operations, identify growth opportunities and improve financial stability.

Community Champion Millie Atkins of CenturyLink has worked with the LSBDC to develop programs that speak to the needs of small business and economic development in Northeast Louisiana. With her assistance and support, the LSBDC has been able to assist more than 200 budding and existing entrepreneurs.

The LSBDC recognized three leaders with the Entrepreneurial Success Award. Smith, of Cheeks AirWorx in West Monroe, has solidified his business reputation as one of the leading air conditioning and heating companies in Northeast Louisiana. In 2014, Smith started Extraordinary Ouachita, an organization comprised of local and state government officials, community leaders and business leaders, which aims to reduce litter.

Jones, of Direnzic Technology and Consulting, is a graduate of ULM and Leadership Ouachita, and was recognized as one of the top 100 tech businesses in Louisiana by Silicon Bayou and is a 2014 recipient of the Top 20 Under 40 Young Professionals in Northeast Louisiana. After a successful 10-year career as a Senior IT Program Manager at Certified Project Manager Professional (PMP), Jones started Direnzic Technology & Consulting, LLC. Jones’ business is the first and only cyber solutions and digital forensic company to provide dedicated hands-on personalized services to both government and non-government agencies in Northeast Louisiana.

Downs, of Downs Enterprise in Bastrop, provides an array of services including financial and tax planning, property management, and commercial trucking. Downs, a retired Army Veteran started the Downs Foundation to help fellow military veterans adjust to back to civilian lifestyle by assisting with career and financial planning. For his vast entrepreneurial achievements, Downs was recently recognized at a reception held at the Governor’s Mansion as the 2015 Louisiana Veteran Small Business Champion.

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