The Advocate

Business and economic development groups from across south Louisiana have teamed up to launch the Louisiana Small Business Rebirth Fund, which aims to give grants to companies hurt by the historic flood.

The fund will give grants of between $1,000 to $10,000 to small businesses that will serve as “triage funding,” said Ansley Zehnder, a spokeswoman for the Baton Rouge Area Chamber. BRAC, the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, GNO Inc., the Louisiana Chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business, the Louisiana Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives and One Acadiana have teamed up for the fund.

While the exact scope of the damage from the flooding that started Aug. 12 is still being determined, there are an estimated 12,000 small businesses located in areas that took on floodwater.

To be eligible for the funding, a business must be located in the 20 parishes included in the federal disaster declaration, have 50 or fewer employees and have been in business on Aug. 10.

Stephen Waguespack, president of LABI, said the fund was announced earlier this week as the Louisiana Small Business Disaster Relief Fund, but was rebranded and expanded.

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

To make a donation to the fund or to sign up to get notice once applications are being accepted, visit labizrebirth.org. The application process for funding should be completed “very soon” and will be a straightforward process, Zehnder said. The first round of funding should take place in a couple of weeks.

“We want to give money to business as quickly as we can,” she said.