Daycare centers, restaurants, grocery stores, physician offices and contractors are among the recipients of the first round of grants awarded from the Louisiana Small Business Rebirth Fund.
A total of $350,000 in grants have been awarded to 57 small businesses in Ascension, East Baton Rouge, Iberia, Lafayette, Livingston and Pointe Coupee parishes thus far. More than 600 applications have been submitted for a grant through the fund, which is a collaboration between the Baton Rouge Area Chamber and the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry to help business impacted by the mid-August flooding.
Roughly half of the businesses receiving grants during the first round of funding are owned by minorities, women or veterans. On average, the number of employees of small businesses awarded grants is fewer than 10.
“We are glad to be of help, but, frankly, current federal and state resources are falling far short of the needs of small businesses,” says LABI President Stephen Waguespack in a prepared statement. “We have pledged to Rebirth Fund applicants that we will continue to aggressively advocate on their behalf for additional financial support to rebuild better and stronger.”
The fund awarded need-based triage grants ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 to help small businesses recover from the flood. Some grant recipients indicated that they would use the money to pay employees who helped with cleanup and recovery efforts. The majority say they plan to reopen in their current locations after repairs are made to their facilities and equipment is replaced.
The Rebirth Fund was created last month in partnership with Greater New Orleans Inc., the Louisiana chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business, the Louisiana Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives and One Acadiana.
NOLA Media Group pledged $100,000 in seed funding to initiate corporate donations, and dozens of companies, individuals, and business organizations have since contributed to the fund. Tax-deductible donations to the Rebirth Fund from large and small businesses as well as individuals around the country made possible the first round of grants.
But the fund is now exhausted, and contributions are being solicited online.
“It’s so important that we’re able to raise additional donations so that we can continue awarding grants to those who were impacted so profoundly,” says BRAC President and CEO Adam Knapp. “The volume of applications we continue to receive makes clear the tremendous unmet needs of small businesses.”