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Pure Lansing : LEAP’s Groundbreaking Ascend Program Welcomes First Cohort of Hispanic and Latino Entrepreneurs

Pure Lansing
April 18, 2024 8:00 AM

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Ascend strives to grow the Greater Lansing region’s economy while addressing systemic issues that prevent Latino and Hispanic community members from launching businesses 

LANSING, Mich. (Apr. 17, 2024) — The Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) has selected six entrepreneurs to participate in the inaugural cohort of its Ascend program—the Lansing Region’s first Hispanic and Latino business accelerator focused on increasing business revenue, growing visibility in the community, and identifying additional funding and investment opportunities. After a careful review process, the final six entrepreneurs selected for this program are: 

·         Jose Aste – Tantay LLC

·         Felipe Lopez Sustaita – Felipe Lopez Sustaita and Associates

·         Douglas Salazar – Mowr Technologies LLC

·         Elena Herrera – Ledger Ally

·         Blanca Sanchez de Lopez – A Touch of Frida Boutique

·         Gina Rodriguez – Gina Alexis Aesthetics 

LEAP’s Ascend program strives to address systemic issues that prevent Latino and Hispanic community members from launching businesses and facilitate meaningful change that contributes to a stronger, regional economy for all. LEAP, as always wants to acknowledge partners such as MEDC and funding from the American Rescue Plan which have been pivotal in launching this program. 

Latino-owned businesses continue to face challenges in securing the capital they need to grow and scale, despite their growing economic potential. According to the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative (SLEI), Latino business owners are 60 percent less likely to receive approval for a $100,000 loan when compared to their non-Hispanic White counterparts. 

profile_photo-260x260 (2)“Business ownership is a proven path to wealth and job creation that stimulates the U.S. economy,” said Tony Willis, chief equity development officer at LEAP (left). “We want a prosperous community for all, and we know that the success of Hispanic and Latino businesses is connected to a thriving community of the whole.” 

Ascend programming includes individualized business assessment, customized work plan development and one-on-one technical assistance. 

Bob Trezise-1“Our goal is to empower, uplift, and sustain the dreams of all local businesses throughout the three-county Lansing Region,” said Bob Trezise, president and CEO of LEAP (left). “We're here to ensure that every idea has a chance to flourish. The more people and businesses we have activated into our three-county economy, the stronger we all are. Part of our winning formula is to ensure that our region is competing with other growth regions across the country.” 

LEAP has a strong history of engaging, working with and assisting entrepreneurs and small business startups from across the entire Clinton, Eaton and Ingham county region through programs like the new Small Business TREK HUB, Business and Local Accelerator Funds, work at the Lansing Regional SmartZone (LRSZ), along with our equity focused programs such as Elevate, One and All and LevelUp. 

Learn more about the entrepreneurs in the inaugural Ascend cohort at purelansing.com/ascend.


About LEAP

The Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) is a coalition of area leaders partnering to build a stronger community for all — working every day to grow, retain and attract business to the Lansing, Michigan, region.

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Pure Lansing, hosted by Bob Trezise, focuses on positive news and events coming out of the Greater Lansing area.

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