Louisiana Business ConnectionIf a stranger told you they’d guarantee a loan of over $1 million to help your small business, that might sound a little too good to be true. That cautious feeling might get stronger if that same stranger offered you entrepreneurship training and helped you prepare for certification exams in your field. Well, it turns out it’s all true … or at least available.

The stranger isn’t a kind person from a cartoon with a withered rose ready to bestow the world upon you. Instead it’s Louisiana Economic Development (LED). And LED doesn’t hand out wishes just because you’re a good person; LED guarantees loans, and offers training and test prep because the state wants your small business to succeed and help grow the economy of Louisiana. The goal is to help businesses thrive, create jobs, be safe and operate here for many years to come.

If you need some assistance with capital, certifications or training, contact Louisiana Economic Development today to learn more about these programs.

Small and Emerging Business Development Program

The Small and Emerging Business Development (SEBD) Program provides managerial and technical training required to grow your small business and help it thrive. The program provides developmental assistance including entrepreneurial training, marketing, computer skills, accounting, business planning, and legal and industry-specific assistance. It also grants consideration for bidding on select products or services purchased by state agencies.

The SEBD program is open to individuals who:

  • Are U.S. citizens
  • Have resided in Louisiana for at least one year
  • Meet additional net-worth and ownership criteria

The SEBD program is open to businesses which:

  • Are majority owned by an SEBD-qualifying individual
  • Operate principally within Louisiana
  • Perform a lawful function
  • Meet additional net-worth and job-creation criteria

Bonding Assistance Program

If your organization needs access to quality bid, payment and performance bonds at reasonable rates from surety companies for public or private jobs, LED’s Bonding Assistance Program can help. This program can offer up to $100,000 in bond guarantees to the surety company on your behalf. This reduces risk for the surety company and leads to more positive underwriting outcomes.

To be eligible for the Bonding Assistance Program, your organization must be certified as a Small and Emerging Business Development and must require bid, payment or performance surety bonds. Previous bankruptcy is not a limiting factor for this program, but the surety company will determine whether your credit score or bankruptcy will impact the underwriting of your application.

Small Business Loan and Guaranty Program

The Small Business Loan and Guaranty Program helps small businesses get greater access to capital through loan guarantees to banks and other small-business lenders. Loans can range from $5,000 to $1.5 million, and guarantees can be up to 75 percent of the amount of the loan.

In addition to residency and equity requirements, loans under $100,000 must create at least one permanent new job. Loans greater than $100,000 must create at least two permanent new positions.

Hudson Initiative

The Hudson Initiative is a certification program designed to help eligible Louisiana small businesses gain greater access to purchasing and contracting opportunities at the state government level. State agencies are encouraged to get quotes from Hudson-certified companies whenever possible, and, for purchases of less than $15,000, agencies can waive the requirement to obtain additional quotes if a certified company submits a reasonable proposal. Among other benefits, your Hudson-certified business and contact information will be made available to state purchasing officials and prime contractors looking for subcontractors. You will also get 10 percent additional evaluation points when responding to RFPs.

To be eligible to participate in the Hudson Initiative, your company must principally operate in Louisiana, have fewer than 50 employees, be owned and operated independently and have gross annual receipts of less than $5 million for non-construction entities and less than $10 million for construction. There are additional citizenship and business requirements. Once obtained, certification must be maintained by filing an annual report.

Veteran Initiative

The Veteran Initiative is a certification program designed to help eligible veteran-owned or service-connected disabled-veteran-owned Louisiana small businesses gain greater access to purchasing and contracting opportunities at the state government level. Benefits are much the same as for the Hudson Initiative. Ten percent of the total evaluation points can be added to your bid on any request for proposal (RFP). Any prime contractors who use your Veteran Initiative-certified business as a subcontractor on a bid for an RFP are also eligible to receive additional percentage points on their bid.

Eligibility requirements are almost identical to those for the Hudson Initiative, with the additional stipulation that the business be majority owned by a veteran. Additional certifications are possible if the business is majority owned by a service-connected disabled veteran.

Louisiana Contractors Accreditation Institute

The Louisiana Contractors Accreditation Institute is a partnership between Louisiana Economic Development, the Louisiana Community and Technical College System and the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors that is designed to help small and emerging construction businesses by providing construction management information and assistance in preparing for the General Contractors State Licensing Exam.

The class meets twice a week for six weeks, and there are distance-learning options for people around the state if the course isn’t held nearby for that term. Courses are taught by industry leaders and cover topics such as bidding, estimating, occupational safety, bonding and gaining access to capital and entrepreneurship. Additional information may be offered about working with the energy sector or coastal restoration.

The Louisiana Contractors Accreditation Institute is open to all who have the intent to start or already have an established construction-based Louisiana business.