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February 3, 2011

ULM entrepreneur realizes business dreams with help of LSBDC

Even as a young boy, Ronnie C. Washington dreamed he might one day operate his own successful business. With help from the Louisiana Small Business Development Center on the University of Louisiana at Monroe campus, Washington's dream has been realized.

Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship and Small Business Paul Dunn heads the LSBDC center at ULM, which provides confidential, one-on-one business consulting and entrepreneurial training to help small businesses and entrepreneurs start or grow their businesses. Consulting services are at no cost. The Center is operated in partnership with ULM, the Louisiana Economic Development office and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

According to an independent ASBDC Economic Impact Study for Louisiana, LSBDC clients experience a 25 percent greater sales increase and an 11 percent greater increase in employment levels as compared to the average Louisiana business.

"Dr. Dunn taught me the importance of location (location, location, location), and the importance of adequate preparation and research," said Washington. "Most businesses fail because of poor preparation and I did not want that to happen to me."

Washington enrolled in business classes while at ULM to learn about entrepreneurship. Later, he took advantage of the variety of business workshops the LSBDC offers at ULM, where he learned the importance of research, preparation and business location.

Eventually, Washington experimented with recipes for Cajun boudin, and when he was finally certain he had found a solid recipe, he hit the streets and sold his first links in 2006.

Washington opened his retail location in Monroe in June 2010. His business generates sufficient income to cover his operating expenses and provide for his living expenses. He has expanded his product offerings to eight different boudin flavors, including chicken, Cajun, crawfish, beef, shrimp, turkey, sweet Italian, and jalapeƱo Cajun, as well as seafood gumbo, stuffed cornish hens and stuffed pork chops.

Washington, inducted into the ULM Football Hall of Fame in 2007, sells his products locally and ships all over the United States.

He credits much of his success to ULM's LSBDC, including training in almost 50 hours of entrepreneurial, financial literacy; help with developing a business plan; assistance with market research and market expansion; and assistance with promotion plan and logo design.

For more information about the services offered at ULM's LSBDC, contact the center at 318-342-1224.

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