The Louisiana Small Business Development Center’s (LSBDC) impact is easily seen from a numbers perspective, but it’s always nice to see quantity translated into quality. The quality was on full display at the annual Louisiana Small Business Awards in Baton Rouge on May 9 hosted by Louisiana Economic Development (LED) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
SBA Louisiana District Director Mike Ricks named the LSBDC at McNeese State University as the State and Region VI SBDC Excellence and Innovation Center for 2019, which acknowledges it as the top SBDC in the state and region that covers Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.
Ricks said the LSBDC at McNeese sets the standard for working with community and business development partners in Lake Charles and the South West region of Louisiana.
“They are dedicated to delivering effective assistance to our small business community without regard for credit or special recognition, leveraging whatever assets magnanimously and without accolade as they delivered quality service to the clients they serve,” Ricks said. “It is this altruistic approach that makes them worthy of recognition because they deliver results without seeking acclaim.”
Under the leadership of Center Director Donna Little, the LSBDC at McNeese State University is responsible for helping start 18 businesses, creating 101 jobs, and helping clients obtain more than $14 million in capital.
For 35 years, McNeese State University has been a strong partner of the LSBDC. Since 1984, the LSBDC at MSU has remained focused on building strong foundations for small businesses in Southwest Louisiana. The center has contributed significantly to the economic development endeavors of its five-parish service region.
Dean Cynthia Cano of the College of Business at McNeese said, “This award is a tribute to McNeese’s continued commitment to the Lake Charles community. The exemplary work of the LSBDC enriches the college experience of our students, serves as an added value to the College of Business, and promotes the economic and cultural growth of Lake Charles. It is an honor to have Little and her staff in the College of Business.”
This year marks the 13th anniversary of Donna Little’s leadership at the LSBDC at MSU. Her stellar performance throughout the years has greatly served small businesses and her community. Since assuming the director position in 2006, Donna and team have helped their clients start 242 businesses; create 723 jobs and retain 349; and secure $62.34 million in capital. Almost 6,700 individuals have taken advantage of training offered by the LSBDC at MSU.
Little said, “Winning the Small Business Development Center Service Excellence and Innovation Center Award for both Louisiana and SBA’s Region VI is an honor. It is also a tribute to the small business owners we serve, acknowledging their hard work and success. We value the trust of our clients as we assist them to work through everything it takes to run a small business. I appreciate the support of McNeese State University as we strive to grow Southwest Louisiana.”
Little and Senior Business Consultant Susan Thibodeaux are often best described as consistent and resilient. The duo has faced strong setbacks such as Higher-Education budget cuts and staff shortage, but it has prevailed by building strong strategic partnerships and alliances. Southwest Louisiana, anchored by the city of Lake Charles, is experiencing an economic boom with projects and industry expansions totaling more than $100.1 billion of industrial development currently underway and on the near-term horizon. This impact coupled with the technical assistance provided to entrepreneurs and small business owners by the LSBDC at MSU has not only sustained but strengthened the regional economy.