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News > Governor's Column
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Jan 18, 2007
Nurturing small businesses to strengthen Louisiana's economy

A column by Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco

When I visit communities across our state, small businesses are often my favorite stops. The restaurants, small shops, bed-and-breakfasts and other businesses are an important part of the lagniappe that makes Louisiana unique.
Thousands of Louisiana small business owners were impacted by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Last month, I announced a new pilot program for their assistance and recovery - $100 million in grants and $38 million in no-interest loans.

This Louisiana Business Recovery Grant and Loan Program (BRGL) launches January 23, providing hope for many small business owners who are fighting to endure these challenging times. I encourage these small businesses to visit for more information about the Louisiana Business Recovery Grant and Loan Program and submit applications if they are eligible. Small business owners can receive assistance through the program's call center by calling (877) 217-1777.

While this particular program is for small businesses in the worst storm-ravaged areas, I am determined to help all small business in Louisiana grow in our evolving economy. All small business owners should look for upcoming announcements of new programs and assistance through the Louisiana Small Business Retention Program.

We have established a new division within Louisiana Economic Development (LED) focusing on independent small businesses - the backbone of our economy. I will not only address the immediate challenges facing small businesses, but also put in place long term policies and structures that support small businesses statewide.

I want our small businesses to be ready to do business. Our state's recovery provides us with a unique chance to grow and prosper by capitalizing on opportunities.

This is exactly what business does best - sees opportunities in the marketplace and capitalizes on them.

I believe there are important ways the public sector can assist the private sector. The Louisiana Business Recovery Grant and Loan Program is one good example. But I know there is much work ahead.

Strengthening small businesses has been a key objective of my Administration.  We have made many new opportunities available for Louisiana's small businesses and entrepreneurs to grow.

Long before the storms, I worked hard to strengthen Louisiana's valuable Small Business Development Center program. I established Business Counseling Centers to provide specialized management and technical assistance throughout the state.

But you can help, too.  Think about the small businesses you know and love across Louisiana and visit them.  Shop in the shops around the corner, stop in for a bite at that café, and help these businesses not only survive - help them thrive.  They need you.