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Small Business Development Center ready to help flood victims

Loyola press release - May 24, 2011

The Louisiana Small Business Development Center Greater New Orleans Region, hosted by the Loyola University New Orleans College of Business, is actively preparing to assist businesses impacted by the rising Mississippi flood waters.

LSBDC GNOR director Carmen Sunda says that the regional office, the Office of Louisiana Economic Development, and the Louisiana Small Business Development Center state office are working together to determine what areas are most affected by the flood and how much assistance they need.

Sunda says this event will most likely have the most impact on parishes outside of the greater New Orleans area and that their office may be asked to assist other service areas, most likely in the river parishes.

“Right now, we’re in the wait-and-see mode,” Sunda said. “It looks like the areas most affected will be to the north and west of us, probably St. Landry, St. Mary and perhaps Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes. Our role would be to assist the local SBDC in assessing the damage and determining who needs the most help.”

“Our greatest concern at this time in the greater New Orleans area is the economic impact that will be felt by all types of businesses whose supply chains involve river commerce or the seafood industry.”

Another SBDC office established at Nicholls State University is run by Loyola alumnae Tori Rayne and Paige Kuhlmann. Sunda likens their organization as the “small business first responders.” They are often in affected areas days after a disaster strikes, meeting with small businesses and trying to work out short- and long-term solutions that will keep them afloat.

“When the oil spill struck, we were down in Venice within four days of the explosion,” Sunda added. “There were businesses in the fishing industry that were literally shut down and had no income coming in. We were able to help a lot of them by getting loan payments or other debts deferred while compensation from BP could be determined.”

As the flood waters rise, Sunda and the SBDC have been actively advocating for at-risk businesses to take steps and prepare for the worst case scenario. Steps that should be taken include making sure critical documents, such as insurance papers, vendor lists, backup computer data, tax and financial records, are all in a safe place. She says these will all be necessary for the recovery process should a business succumb to flood waters.

In addition, the SBDC will hold four disaster preparedness workshops in the Greater New Orleans Region in June offering suggestions on how to prepare for hurricane season.

For more information, call the SBDC at 504-831-3730 or visit lsbdc.org.