My business is struggling. What can I do?

Information for small business owners, including financial counseling and loan information.

For unfortunately too many workers and small businesses devastated by the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, the GCCF claims process alone will not sufficiently bring them through uncertain economic times and certainly will not position them to grow or expand. A wide diversity of businesses are affected ranging from restaurant franchises to small seafood distributors. Fortunately, there is increasing assistance available for small business owners. This assistance needs to strengthen as many coastal economies are structured around these ventures and businesses are also employers which could help to stabilize the job market.

GNO, Inc.‘s second part of the Economic Impact Series examining the effects of the drilling moratoria (download here) found that many coastal businesses were relying on savings to keep their employees on payroll. Additionally, businesses which were impacted by the moratoria (e.g. policy changes) more than the oil spill (e.g. environmental changes) have had little to no options for loss compensation. GCCF consistently denies moratorium related claims.

The GCCF claims process can be challenging for small business owners. The state has sponsored a network of community based organizations which are currently providing technical assistance in the claims process. Please visit our BP Claims page for summaries and contact information for these organizations, or Resources in Your Area to find assistance in your community.

In addition, several governmental business financial assistance programs are available, including the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program which is intended to help businesses with loans up to $2 million to meet financial obligations that the business or private non-profit organization could have met had the Deepwater BP Oil Spill not occurred. They have produced a fact sheet and an office location list specific to the assistance available following Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

Other targeted governmental financial assistance for businesses include the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Trade Adjustment Assistance, which can provide qualified Louisiana fishermen up to $12,000 in cash   benefits and technical training. Applications are due by December 23, 2010.

Technical assistance is highly recommended in concert with any financial assistance or compensation in order to  position yourself to not only recover from the financial strain caused by the oil spill but to effectively capitalize on the opportunities that changing economy and landscape in coastal Louisiana is presenting for workers and businesses. In terms of financial assistance, several non-profit alternate lending organizations have established counseling outreach programs that are making low-interest, credit competitive loans available to qualifying individuals and businesses. For a comprehensive resource list of organizations supporting small businesses see the Resources for Impacted Businesses and Workers. For example, Seedco Financial has opened the Southeast Louisiana Fisheries Assistance Center in Belle Chasse, serving Plaquemines, St. Bernard, Orleans, and Jefferson parishes. The Center is the first comprehensive one-stop center for technical and financial assistance for fisheries in the United States. Loans to small businesses range in amounts of $50,000 to $250,000. Increasingly, traditional banks are also responding to the oil spill crisis with competitive loan packages, specifically for families and businesses directly impacted by the oil spill.

For state-wide economic development information and support, Louisiana Economic Development Office provides a comprehensive overview of business incentives, industry information, site selection and workforce development. The network of Louisiana Small Business Development Centers provides location specific assistance and advice to existing and potential small businesses in order to foster the formation and growth of small businesses which help to expand and diversify the Louisiana economy.

The network of GCCF Claims Technical Assistance providers can also be a great resource for businesses affected by the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

A Shared Initiative, Inc. (ASII)
Located in New Orleans Ninth Ward and affiliated with ASI Federal Credit Union, ASII provides expertise in mortgage lending, financing, and tax implications.
Contact: Lang Le
Phone: (504) 940-5924

Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans (CCANO)
Based in New Orleans, CCANO maintains five sites in the following parishes: Orleans, St. Bernard, Plaquemines (east and west), and Jefferson. Case management and mental health services are available to individuals and families affected by the Horizon Oil Spill.
Contact: Martin Gutierrez
Phone: 504-310-6914
Fax: 504-596-3098

Coastal Communities Consulting (CCC)
CCC provides expertise of the fishing industry, specifically of and to the Vietnamese-American fishermen; coordinates services with Seedco Financial and with local government in Lafitte, LA.
Contact: Sandy Nguyen
Phone: (504) 628-2097

Greater New Orleans, Inc. (GNO Inc.)
Representing the Greater New Orleans region, GNO, Inc. is an economic development organization providing claims TA to processors as well as peer training to other TA providers.
Contact: Emily Danielson
Phone: (504) 527-6963

Literacy Alliance
Housed in Orleans Parish, the Literacy Alliance provides Plain Language training, document editing and document translation services to ensure all documents are readable by the general public.
Contact: Rachel Nicolosi
Phone: (504) 864-7012

Mary Queen of Viet Nam Community Development Center (MQVN CDC)
Based in New Orleans East, MQVN CDC is a community based economic development organization that serves a predominantly Vietnamese American population with Limited English Proficiency.
Contact: Tuan Nguyen
Phone: (504) 225-9170

Operation HOPE (HOPE)
Based in New Orleans, HOPE provides economic empowerment services to populations needing financial recovery assistance after disasters. HOPE provides free small business coaching. HOPE also provides free claims assistance for those affected by the oil spill.
Contact: Rita Laners
Phone: (504) 309-6153

Seedco Financial Services (SFS)
With a branch office in Plaquemines Parish, SFS provides a variety of financial services to the commercial fishing industry.
Contact: Myla Reese Poree
Phone: (504) 392-2454

South Louisiana Economic Council (SLEC)
Located in Lafourche Parish in south central Louisiana, SLEC is an economic development organization that provides business development assistance across Assumption, Lafourche, St. Mary, and Terrebonne parishes.
Contact: Mohaned Mohammed
Phone: (985) 448-4485

Terrebonne Economic Development Authority (TEDA)
Terrebonne Economic Development Authority, TEDA, is an economic development organization that has dedicated resources to assisting local businesses in the oil spill claims process.
Contact: Daphnie Domino
Phone: 985-873-6890

Vietnamese Initiatives in Economic Training (VIET)
VIET works to develop educational and economic training programs and act as a resource center for minority residents in Louisiana. VIET’s Disaster Technical Assistance (DTAP) mobilized in May 2010 to respond to the BP Oil Spill. The VIET office was the first BP Claims Center in Eastern New Orleans that was set up to respond to the community needs. As the process moved to GCCF, VIET is provide direct service to oil spill claimants by providing a case management system that walks the claimant through the claim processes and introduce them to other supportive services that can benefit the individual. Other programs include: Afterschool Academy and Summer Adventure, Free Tax Preparation Services and Business Technical Assistance Program.
Contact: Cyndi Nguyen
Phone: (504) 415-4905

Volunteers of America Greater Baton Rouge, Acadiana Region (VOA)
Based out of Lafayette, VOA Acadiana has regularly engaged in disaster relief work within rural parishes in south central and southwest Louisiana.
Contact: Beth Desonier
Phone: 337-261-4025
Fax: 337-261-4026

Louisiana Small Business Development Center, New Orleans Region (LSBDC GNO) –
Louisiana Small Business Development Center, Nicholls State University (LSBDC NSU) -
Louisiana Business and Technical Center – based in Baton Rouge, LBTC assists businesses and entrepreneurs in south Louisiana via programs such as mobile classroom, rural entrepreneurship, business counseling and disaster counseling.