Fund created to help small businesses in Louisiana affected by massive flood

Worst natural disaster in U.S. since Hurricane Sandy in 2012

Verot School Rd is seen covered in floodwaters in this handout picture taken by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development in Lafayette Parish, Louisiana, U.S. August 12, 2016. Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development/Handout via Reuters

Editor’s note: Louisiana has been devastated by a severe flood this month. The storm produced three times as much rain in Louisiana as Hurricane Katrina, according to the Washington Post. There were 32 straight hours of rainfall in Baton Rouge. As a result of the flooding from all of the rain, at least 13 people have died and the damage is estimated to be at least $30 million. It is the worst natural disaster to strike the U.S. since Hurricane Sandy four years ago, according to the Red Cross. 

To offer a small amount of assistance, BizTimes Milwaukee publishes this report from the Baton Rouge Business Report, a fellow member of the Alliance of Area Business Publishers (AABP), about a fund set up to assist small businesses affected by the flooding:

The Baton Rouge Area Chamber and the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry have teamed up with other regional business organizations to create a fund specifically designed to help small business owners affected by the flood quickly get back on their feet.

Verot School Rd is seen covered in floodwaters in this handout picture taken by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development in Lafayette Parish, Louisiana, U.S. August 12, 2016.    Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development/Handout via Reuters
A road covered in floodwaters in this photo taken by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development in Lafayette Parish, Louisiana. Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development/Handout via Reuters

The two groups announced the creation of the Louisiana Small Business Rebirth Fund 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.

“Small businesses are the most impacted,” BRAC President and CEO Adam Knapp said. “Jumpstarting their recovery through grantmaking will expedite a longer-term entrepreneurial renaissance for our community.”

Originally announced by LABI on as the Louisiana Small Business Disaster Relief Fund, the fund has been expanded and rebranded as the Louisiana Small Business Rebirth Fund to reflect its evergreen status to assist small businesses anywhere in the state following disasters.

“When we announced the fund earlier this week, we heard from other business organizations interested in doing something similar to provide immediate assistance to small businesses,” said LABI President Stephen Waguespack. “We decided to join forces, recognizing that we’ll have greater impact working collectively—essentially helping more businesses more quickly.”

The fund will focus on making microgrants of less than $10,000 to affected small businesses. The idea is to provide them with cash, no strings attached, that they can spend on whatever services or equipment will help them get back in commerce most expediently, Knapp says.

NOLA Media Group, which owns NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune, is one of the first major donors to the fund. The media company has pledged $100,000 to the Rebirth Fund and will partner with the Foundation for Louisiana to administer the grant.

Eligible small businesses must be located within one of the 20 parishes included in the federal disaster declaration area, have 50 or fewer employees, and have been in business on Aug. 10, 2016.

Those interested in contributing to the Louisiana Small Business Rebirth Fund are encouraged to visit the Louisiana Small Business Rebirth Fund’s website for additional information. Information about donating to the fund will also be accessible on the websites of each participating business organization. The application process has not yet been finalized, but those interested should sign up to receive notification when the application is available.

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