By Angel Albring | BIZ. Magazine
The Louisiana Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council Annual Meeting met Tuesday to
discuss what the state is doing to help small businesses in the state in the wake of the COVID19 pandemic.
State Representative Gary Carter, District 102, addressed the council and said that the state
legislature formed a committee that performed studies to determine how Louisiana’s small
businesses could be helped during the pandemic and beyond.
Carter said that what they found was that many of the struggling small businesses couldn’t
participate in the many relief programs the state offered because they didn’t meet the
requirements or they hadn’t kept up with their formalities and documentation.
“And then we learned that many of those businesses, even if they had at one point in time had
the formalities properly in order, they didn’t keep up with that,” he said. “Some of it was minor,
such as they didn’t pay a $25 fee to keep current with the secretary of state, and some of it was
major, like issues with the department of revenue and taxation and letting that be an
Carter said that the committee began looking at what the state could do to help people start a
business in Louisiana, maintain a business in the state, and, what he felt was most important,
how to do business with the state of Louisiana.
“That is critical because the state of Louisiana is the largest contractor here in the state of
Louisiana,” Carter said. “So we want to make sure that those small businesses have access to
the largest contractor, which is the state, which benefits directly from those businesses being
able to grow and prosper.”
He said that the state offers many great programs and a lot of information about those
programs, but many businesses don’t know about them.
Mandi D. Mitchell, Assistant Secretary for Louisiana Economic Development (LED), said that
with so much information available “it becomes almost like an information overload.”
LSBEC member and CEO of Bart’s Office Moving, Courtney Davis, said that while there are
many places to find information, it’s not always easy to find the exact information she needs to
help her grow her business.
Davis added that she felt there needed to be more education available for startups, too.
Don Pierson, LED Secretary, said that the state is aware of the problems that businesses are
facing with getting the help they need.
“We hear that cry for assistance and it takes a lot of forms,” he said. “I think of it like a deck of
cards. Spread it out and you have 52 problems and we probably have just as many solutions
and avenues we can take.”
To help businesses streamline their efforts to get the help they need, Pierson said that the state
of Louisiana has been granted $2 million in federal funds designated for “technical assistance”
to small businesses.
He said that they currently have 46 organizations willing to help get this assistance to small
businesses. The idea is to have CPAs, business attorneys, bankers, and more agree to online
meetings with small business owners. The owners will go to a central location, via appointment,
and ask the questions for things they need help with and get more resources.
Pierson said that the experts who choose to work with the program will be compensated for their
time out of the $2 million the state will receive.
“This is a program that we can execute that will bring some needed relief out there.” he said.
Carter said that, aside from this $2 million, more money is expected to come from the federal
government for help with small businesses. He said that in order for businesses to take
advantage of the funding, they need to keep up with their paperwork and other formalities and
requirements, and if there’s anything they need to clear up to qualify for relief funds, they need
to take care of that now.