Louisiana Main Street, a Main Street America Coordinating Program,
helps lead a powerful, grassroots network consisting of 35 towns and communities across the state committed to building stronger downtowns
and historic districts through historic preservation-based economic development.

At a time when survival and recovery are at the top of mind for Louisiana’s small businesses following a recent report by Main Street America on pandemic impacts, Louisiana Main Street invited Stephanie Hartman, Small Business Services Director at Louisiana Economic Development and Carla Holland, Director of the Louisiana Small Business Development Centers, to
present via conference call the services each organization can provide to small and micro businesses around the state.

“We’re at a time when we need to not only hear from businesses in Louisiana about what makes sense to start our economic recovery, but
more importantly, support our small business with the tools they need to recover,” said Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser. “Our small
business owners are the heartbeat of our Main Street communities. We need to make sure they have the information they need to formulate the
best game plan for their survival.”

“It is our responsibility to give our Main Street Community members as much assistance and support as we can,” said Ray Scriber, Director of Louisiana Main Street. “With so much information coming out each day, we realized that our Main Street Managers were being inundated with information. We wanted to streamline that information and deliver it a way to help coordinate the recovery effort for our small businesses.”

Stephanie Hartman presented the following information on the LED response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Louisiana Loan Portfolio Guaranty Program (LPGP) is a partnership program between LED, which will provide a loan guaranty fund; the Louisiana Bankers Association (LBA), whose
participating members will offer the loans; and the Louisiana Public Facilities Authority (LPFA), which will administer the program. The
purpose of the LPGP is to provide loans up to $100,000 to Louisiana small businesses in response to COVID-19.

At this time, LED recognizes small business needs are immediate, and
if there isn’t a timely response, the State risks losing a foundational element of its economy. In collaboration with the LBA and LPFA, LED has worked with the banking community to provide access to capital to small companies that may experience (have experienced) a sudden drop
in revenues due to lost business caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The State, through LED, is guaranteeing a portion of each participating
bank’s loan. For more information on Louisiana’s Loan Portfolio Guaranty Program, along with resources for impacted business, visit LED’s COVID-19 Assistance webpage.

In addition to the Loan Guaranty Program, LED has many services for small business including:
Small and Emerging Business Development Program
CEO Roundtables
Mentor-Protégé Recognition Program
Economic Gardening
Hudson Initiative
Louisiana Contractor Accreditation Institute: Bonding Assistance Program
Step Grant
Louisiana Veterans
First Business Initiative
Veteran Initiative
More information on each of these can be found on LED’s Small Business Programs webpage.

Carla Holland, Director of the Louisiana Small Business Development Center (LSBDC), discussed their mission and the training opportunities each
center has to offer. The Louisiana Small Business Development Center offers high-quality technical assistance to existing and start-up small businesses, and to small business entrepreneurs in Louisiana at no cost to the client.

Their mission is to facilitate the formation and growth of small businesses through individual one-on-one consulting services, entrepreneurial workshops and training programs. The LSBDC provides business education and information resources to help develop Louisiana’s economy. LSBDC
business consultants can help evaluate business ideas, prepare marketing strategies, determine financing needs, develop loan proposals, conduct industry and market research, and create an actionable business plan.

There are seven service areas servicing all 64 parishes in the state:
Monroe – University of Louisiana
Bossier City – Bossier Parish
Community College
Lake Charles – McNeese State
Lafayette – University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Baton Rouge – Southern University
Hammond – Southeastern Louisiana University
New Orleans – Xavier University
of Louisiana
Thibodaux – Nicholls State University

For more information please visit the Louisiana Small Business Development Center webpage.

Originally published in the Abbeville Meridional, May 6, 2020