BRAC Announces 2023-24 Cohort of Drive Minority Business Accelerator powered by ExxonMobil 

Cohort collectively represents approximately $26.4 million in annual revenue  

Baton Rouge, La. (September 6, 2023) – The Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) today announced the second cohort of the Drive Minority Business Accelerator powered by ExxonMobil in partnership with Interise’s award-winning StreetWise ‘MBA’™ curriculum, a week after hosting its annual Economic Inclusion Symposium presented by Dow. Twelve minority-owned businesses comprise the class, collectively representing approximately $26.4 million in annual revenue and employing 155 full-time equivalent employees. 

Members of the cohort include: 

  • Paola Alvarado, CORE Boiler & Mechanical Services     
  • Ross Armstrong, 4th FLR Creative Agency 
  • LaMiesa Bonton, Bonton Associates  
  • Wendy Green Daniels, Beechwood Residential   
  • Kellen Francis, CodeGig      
  • Kodi Guillory, Sustainable Design Solutions 
  • Sherilyn Hayward, Leroy’s LipSmack’n Lemonade 
  • Quinlan Motley, 1-800 Radiator & AC          
  • Derrick Smith, Luxury Lawn & Landscape   
  • Renita W. Thomas, In Loving Arms Pediatric Day HealthCare     
  • Achilles Williams, Caerus Advisors     

“BRAC is proud to invest in the growth of existing minority-owned businesses to help drive jobs, hiring and investment,” said Adam Knapp, BRAC president and CEO. “These companies and entrepreneurs are already strong; we fund Drive to help them get to the next level. Research shows that growing high potential minority-owned businesses fuels minority employment and community investment.” 

“The Drive Minority Business Accelerator aligns with ExxonMobil’s commitment to economic empowerment and champions local, small and diverse suppliers,” said Stephanie Cargile, ExxonMobil Baton Rouge Public and Government Affairs Manager. “Recently, ExxonMobil was honored as the first oil and gas company to gain membership into the Billion Dollar Roundtable by spending at least $1 billion annually with certified diverse-owned suppliers. Supporting programs like the Drive Minority Business Accelerator is the kind of program that supports that success.” 

Drive powered by ExxonMobil is part of BRAC’s five-year strategic plan, BRING IT!, which identifies “creating a more inclusive economy,” as one of BRAC’s key goals. The annual program is designed for minority small business owners who want to take their business to the next level within the Capital Region. Interise’s StreetWise ‘MBA’ program is a hands-on, cohort-style program that provides minority business owners with the knowledge, resources, and networks necessary for their businesses to scale, including tools to advance their business operations, financial management, marketing and sales, human resources, business strategy development, access to capital, and contract development. 

Ronnie Slone, president and CEO of The Slone Group, will facilitate the Drive accelerator on behalf of BRAC. Slone brings over 30 years of experience in management, human resources, training facilitation and professional staffing with several Fortune 500 and small businesses alike. Combined with his wealth of experience, Slone will use Interise’s StreetWise ‘MBA’™ curriculum with support from BRAC’s team to develop members of the cohort. 

The program is funded through contributions from companies across the region who continue to commit to advancing economic inclusion within the Baton Rouge Area. Program sponsors include ExxonMobil, Capital One, and Coca-Cola Bottling Company. Community partners include Phelps Dunbar LLP, LSU E.J. Ourso College of Business, b1 FOUNDATION, MetroMorphosis, Baton Rouge Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce and the Southern University Law Center. 

The program begins in September and runs through July 2024. More information about the program can be found at or by contacting Davorio Stevenson, BRAC’s manager of economic inclusion, at  

About the Baton Rouge Area Chamber  

The Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) is an aggressively ambitious regional economic development organization with a bias for action. BRAC seeks to push Baton Rouge beyond the status quo, unleash its potential, and support a vibrant business community that believes the finish line does not exist. BRAC seeks to accelerate economic opportunity in the Baton Rouge Area, for everyone, through BRING IT! Baton Rouge, its five-year, regional strategic plan. Learn more about BRAC at

About ExxonMobil 

ExxonMobil, one of the largest publicly traded international energy and petrochemical companies, creates solutions that improve quality of life and meet society’s evolving needs. 

The corporation’s primary businesses – Upstream, Product Solutions and Low Carbon Solutions – provide products that enable modern life, including energy, chemicals, lubricants, and lower-emissions technologies. ExxonMobil holds an industry-leading portfolio of resources, and is one of the largest integrated fuels, lubricants and chemical companies in the world. 

About Interise 

Interise builds an inclusive economy through small business development, supporting the growth of minority-owned small businesses and small businesses located in low- and moderate-income communities. Interise’s award-winning StreetWise ‘MBA’™ uses a peer-learning method to provide business owners with the knowledge, know-how, and networks necessary to grow and scale. As Interise companies grow, they contribute to local job creation and build community wealth. Interise companies historically create new jobs at 5x the rate of the private sector, and are responsible for the creation of over 30,000 new jobs. Interise partners with government agencies, anchor institutions, and business associations to make locally branded StreetWise ‘MBA’™ programs available in 75+ cities, nationwide. Strategic Growth Partners include the Kauffman Foundation, the Surdna Foundation, and the Prudential Foundation. More information can be found at, @StreetWise_MBA and 


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