Printed in the American Press, 12/15/2020
Small businesses are the backbone of our economy by employing about 50 percent of the workforce. For our area economy to recover from the impact of COVID and two hurricanes, it’s necessary for our small businesses to get back in full operation.
At the SWLA Alliance, we are working to help our businesses and industries keep on the path to rebuilding.
The SEED Center was home to the Business Recovery Center for several weeks through Dec. 9. Over 950 businesses and individuals received help in applying for SBA loans. There were five SBA counselors at the center and they were very helpful. According to the SBA, $30 million for businesses and $515 million for residents federal disaster loans were approved in Louisiana. Nearly $25 million in loans have been approved for Hurricane Delta.
Realizing that the dual impact of COVID and hurricanes took a heavy toll on our businesses, The Alliance reached out to the Sempra Energy Foundation and Cameron LNG for help. Sempra generously responded with $150,000 which established the Pathway to Small Business Recovery Grant Program. With the Sempra contribution, the Alliance was able to award 50 grants of $3,000 each to businesses in Cameron and Calcasieu parishes. The grant checks were awarded last week. The response was gratifying as we heard several dozen horror stories about how these small businesses are fighting to recover. The funds were badly needed and very much appreciated.
We received over 436 applications for the 50 grants. Therefore, there is still a tremendous need.
We contacted the Community Foundation of SWLA which has received almost 4,000 donations from corporations and individuals around the nation for hurricane recovery. The Community Foundation has provided funds for area non-profits and individuals to support relief efforts after Laura and Delta and is now making grants to aid in the recovery of our region. Realizing that our small businesses need help, Sara Judson and The Community Foundation provided $150,000 for another round of fifty $3,000 grants.
This grant is open to forprofit businesses that have been in operation at least two years with fewer than 25 employees. All businesses in all five parishes of Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, and Jeff Davis parishes are eligible.
The simple one-page form is on the website: or you may pick up a copy at The SEED Center, 4310 Ryan St. in Lake Charles, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The deadline for applications is Jan. 8. Businesses that previously applied but did not receive grants do not have to re-apply. They will automatically be listed for consideration in the Pathway to Small Business Recovery Grants.
We know the need is tremendous for area businesses. The Alliance is seeking other organizations to step up and fund additional grants.
Just as thousands of volunteers have helped individuals and homeowners, it is gratifying to see organizations like Sempra Energy Foundation and Community Foundation of SWLA realize the needs of our small businesses and provide financial assistance.
One of the reasons we are proud to live in Southwest Louisiana is our generous and caring people. By continuing to work together on a regional basis we will not only rebuild, but as one small business owner told us, this is a chance to make our business better than before.
That’s a great goal for all of us in Southwest Louisiana.