Report dissects the challenges of Capital Region small business financing

BATON ROUGE, La. (December 14, 2017) — The Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) today released its inaugural Access to Capital report. The report is available online at brac.org/reports.

“We heard very clearly from members of our Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council that this issue is harming our small businesses and limiting their opportunities for expansion,” said Adam Knapp, BRAC president and CEO. “We learned through this report that, even though small business lending and access to capital is a national issue, the issues here in the Capital Region are perhaps even more challenging.”

BRAC prepared the Access to Capital Report to contextualize national small business capital trends into a local framework, and compare the Capital Region against five peer metropolitan areas that are similar to the Baton Rouge Area economically and demographically. The report includes data drawn from demographic and economic research, national reports, a custom survey of two dozen local commercial lenders, and interviews with commercial finance experts here and in peer regions.

After dissecting the issues creating challenges for small business financing across the country, and unique pain points in the Capital Region, the report is concluded with a series of recommendations to address these challenges and keep the Capital Region’s small business community thriving.

To help expand access to capital by local firms, BRAC recommends the following:

  • Expanding small business counseling resources in the Capital Region to help businesses prepare cashflow projections, business plans, and other information required for loan applications.
  • Expanding financial education opportunities to produce an entrepreneurship-ready population.The low average credit score in Baton Rouge hinders would-be entrepreneurs from starting businesses and current business owners from expanding, and greater financial education can help mitigate these low scores.
  • Providing additional opportunities for low-credit borrowers, such as expanding the number of local institutions tailored to the needs of small business owners and entrepreneurs with less than perfect credit, such as CDFIs, or increased SBA lending by local banks, could increase the pool of capital available to these borrowers and expand economic opportunities in high-poverty areas of the region
  • Protecting the Angel Investment Tax Credit will create the opportunity for the region to increase equity financing opportunities.Since 2011, the Angel Investment Tax Credit program in Louisiana has incentivized more than $201.4 million in investment into small and growing companies across the state.

About the Baton Rouge Area Chamber

The Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) leads economic development in the nine-parish Baton Rouge Area, working to grow jobs and wealth and to improve the business climate and competitiveness in the region. Today, BRAC investors include more than 1,500 small businesses, midsize firms, large industry and entrepreneurial startups, as well as individuals and organizations that support business and economic development. In this capacity, BRAC serves as the voice of the business community, providing knowledge, access, services and advocacy. More information is available at brac.org.

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