As the state’s largest and most accessible source of assistance for entrepreneurs, the Louisiana Small Business Development Center (LSBDC) was quick in its response to help small businesses and entrepreneurs work to recover any losses caused by the Louisiana Flood that took place across the southern part of the state in August.
LSBDC State Director Rande Kessler has been very pleased by the rapid and professional response of the LSBDC team in partnering with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and Louisiana Economic Development (LED).
“We provide valuable business consultation every day, rain or shine; but during the ‘rain’ we see the escalated need,” Kessler said. “And many of those businesses did not have an umbrella.”
With centers located at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Southern University in Baton Rouge, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and in the Greater New Orleans and Bayou Region the LSBDC was able to quickly assist in establishing Business Recovery Centers to aid the SBA.
Tanya N. Garfield, SBA Director of Field Operations Center – West said the Disaster Business Recovery Centers are available to help business owners get back on their feet by providing a single, one-stop location where businesses can apply for low interest SBA disaster loans, access a variety of specialized help and meet face to face with SBA customer service representatives.
“We encourage every business owner to take advantage of these services as quickly as possible. The sooner you apply for assistance, the sooner SBA can help you begin rebuilding from this disaster,” Garfield said.
The LSBDC’s presence in major markets afforded the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), SBA and LED a “boots on ground” approach to serve entrepreneurs and small businesses impacted by the flooding.
LED Secretary Don Pierson said that since the mid-August flooding event in Louisiana, “we have leaned heavily on the superior skills of our partners at the Louisiana Small Business Development Center.”
“The LSBDC provides valuable assistance every day, reaching 10,000 Louisiana entrepreneurs annually, and their efforts in the disaster recovery have been critically important,” Pierson said.
The LSBDC deployed a team of highly trained business consultants that has been able assess business economic injury, evaluate the business’ strength, cash flow projections, prepare for SBA disaster loan assistance, and most importantly, a review of all options to ensure each business makes decisions that are appropriate for its situation.
“Small business is big business in Louisiana,” Pierson said. “With strong assistance from LSBDC, we are helping restore the livelihoods of thousands of Louisiana small business employers and employees. That’s a tremendous accomplishment.”
In the consulting process with impacted entrepreneurs and small business owners, LSBDC consultants have found most businesses are not prepared for natural disasters.
“How many times we’ve even said to ourselves, ‘it won’t happen to me,’ Kessler said. “But the LSBDC teams know that disaster happens in many forms to small businesses, and the LSBDC has trained for and refined business disaster recovery strategy for every size small business. We are prepared for natural disasters, even if our small businesses are not, and we have been on the ground, assisting.”
In an effort to disseminate timely news and updates, the LSBDC activated “READY ALERTS,” its mobile emergency notification system, which delivers immediate, permission-based business recovery assistance updates via text and email messages.
By texting READY to (318) 769-9921, subscribers have access to the latest information about recovery resources for small business owners and entrepreneurs affected by the flooding.
Kessler added: “The flooding (for the second time) has been a very unfortunate and in many cases devastating event; so the focus of the LSBDC is to exceed expectations in providing our professional business consultation and small business support.”