Last week, the United States Small Business Administration’s Regional Administrator (SBA) for the South Central Region Ted James visited the SEED Center to share insights on agency operations and outreach efforts.
The SBA’s South Central Region serves Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.
Among his most important messages, James explained, “the SBA does not directly lend money.”
Instead, the organization works to provide access to financial capital for business owners. Through the SBA’s Preferred Lender Program the agency gives lenders more authority to process, close, service, and liquidate SBA-guaranteed loans.
“And I am aggressively going after banks not on the lender list,” James said. “I am fighting for lending opportunities for small businesses.”
James noted that the Louisiana Small Business Development Center at McNeese State University is available to assist people looking to start a business or are already operating and need help.
The Lake Charles office – like others around the nation -- “delivers up-to-date counseling, training and technical assistance in all aspects of small business management.
“SBDC services include, but are not limited to, assisting small businesses with financial, marketing, production, organization, engineering and technical problems and feasibility studies. Special SBDC programs and economic development activities include international trade assistance, technical assistance, procurement assistance, venture capital formation, and rural development,” according to the agency website.
“The SBDCs also make special efforts to reach minority members of socially and economically disadvantaged groups, veterans, women, and the disabled. Assistance is provided to both current or potential small business owners. They also provide assistance to small businesses applying for Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) grants from federal agencies.”
Susan Thibodeaux is the executive director of the McNeese State office.
“We want people to know we can assist. Our services are free. Even if you come in and learn just one aspect of business, you have gained more than you had prior to visiting us.”
James acknowledged the agency and its centers face the challenge of telling the story of their abilities and successes.
Thibodeaux agreed. “It is amazing that so many people don’t know anything about us.”
Some of the detailed assistance that can be acquired at the center include:
- Creation of sales and marketing strategies
- Access and use of market research
- Development of business plans and growth strategies
- Improvement of websites
- Identifying new customer leads
- Expansion into international markets
- Preparation of loan packages (get bank ready)
- Project future cash flow, expenses, and profits
- Understanding financial statements
- Identifying sources of funding
- Conducting financial checkups and analysis
- Perform insurance assessment and risk analysis
- Connect with LED, SBA, and other sources
- Entrepreneurial training
“We’ve worked closely with business owners who have come into help. There are times we’ve written loan packages to help them move through the process,” Thibodeaux said.
Years ago, when the SEED Center (located at 4310 Ryan St. in Lake Charles) was being planned, the concept was for the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance (economic development office for the five parish region), Chamber SWLA, SBDC, Business Incubator, Imperial Calcasieu Regional Planning Authority and other development assets to be located in one facility to make it easier for the public to access resources.
Now more than ever, our agencies invite you to visit, seek assistance and benefit from the talented professionals who want our region to thrive.
For more information about the SBDC office in Lake Charles, call 337-475-5529 or visit https://louisianasbdc.org/lsbdc-at-mcneese-state-university.