New Lake Charles Business Innovation Center to focus on small business

Published 7:06 am Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Small business is the backbone of the local economy. This week, Southwest Louisiana business owners are receiving the focus they deserve and the services they can use. A new Business Innovation Center was announced for Lake Charles Monday. Monday also marked the beginning of Lake Charles’ Small Business Development Week. Here in Lake Charles, business owners and business owner wannabes weren’t just given a nod. The City, in partnership with several organizations has planned and manned a slate of learning opportunities and a competition that’s sure to entertain, for small business owners.

Also noteworthy to local business owners: The application period is open for the Restore Louisiana Small Business Loan Program, a federally funded program that will provide assistance for non-construction expenses to eligible small businesses and nonprofits affected by the 2020-2021 weather disasters.

Lake Charles Business Innovation Center

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North Lake Charles is the location for the area’s newest Lake Charles Business Innovation Center. Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter made the announcement on the site at 1520 North Martin Luther King Highway. Construction on the Center will begin later this year. The facility will provide a business incubator environment, co-working space, private offices, drop-in desk availability, conference rooms and event space. It is scheduled to open in 2024.

Hunter was joined by The Louisiana Chamber of Commerce Foundation, a New Orleans-based group with satellite offices in other parts of the state. For the past couple of years, LCCF has been at work here, in concert with the The Lake Charles Minority Business Chamber to promote business development, according to David St. Etienne, President. Etienne said the LCMBC will have offices in the new hub. It’s a space meant to inspire innovation, increase networking opportunities and provide technical training.

“A business incubator in this area of our City has been a long-standing priority of my administration,” Hunter said. “Today we are taking the first steps of crossing the finish line of turning this dream into a reality. Incredible things can happen through solid partnerships.”

“We do outreach throughout the community to identify those businesses that have been historically underserved or are in underutilized community areas that don’t have the economic resources to afford the services that we offer,” said Kelisha Garrett, COO, VP of Government Affairs, LCCF.

She noted the convenience of the location for serving business owners who are working in North Lake Charles to get a business started or are already at work at their business site.

“This Center will offer accounting, marketing, legal, technical and other services to the owners of beginning and established businesses to strengthen and build business capacity,” she said. “We’re here to facilitate those efforts.”

Lease space will be available for additional tenants. Etienne announced that Southwest Louisiana Credit Union will anchor the new offices. Garrett said the facility will be funded with Capital Outlay, Office of Community Development and Economic Development Administration funding.

LC Launch

From workshops to legal advice, “shark tank-like” pitches to pointers for e-promotions, LC Launch, Lake Charles’ Small Business Development Week covers it all. The City of Lake Charles, partnering with Hancock Whitney Bank and other organizations, kicked off events Monday, but it’s not too late to participate.

Tuesday, May 16, will begin with a CEO Roundtable featuring Mayor Nic Hunter, 9 – 10 a.m. in the Lake Charles City Council Chambers located at 326 Pujo St. Later that afternoon, events will move back to the Lake Charles Civic Center with a Louisiana Chamber of Commerce Foundation Business Information Event from 4-6 p.m. and a Small Business Workshop focused on the ROI of social media for business owners, 5:30-6:30 p.m.

From 6:30- 8 p.m., enjoy the action of the Gator Tank competition as the business-minded pitch their ideas to a panel of judges in the style of the TV show, Shark Tank, for their chance to win $2,500.

On Wednesday, May 17, the Student Entrepreneur Academy will be held from 8 a.m. to noon at the Willis Noland SEED Center, 4210 Ryan St., and the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) will present a Cash Flow vs. Profit Workshop from 3-4:30 p.m. at that same location.

Continuing at the Willis Noland SEED Center on Thursday, May 18, SBDC will present a workshop to show business owners how to leverage Google searches and maps in a 2-3 p.m. session. Beginning at 3 p.m., they will learn about other E-Commerce tools.

LC Launch Small Business Development Week will close out Friday, May 19, with a SBDC workshop focused on using YouTube to grow business, 10-11:30 a.m. at the SEED Center.

At 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, the Southern University Technology and Entrepreneurship Clinic will host a legal clinic at the MLK Center located at 2009 Simmons St.

LC Launch Small Business Development Week is presented in partnership with Louisiana Economic Development, America’s Small Business Development Center, RESTORE Louisiana, the SEED Center Business Incubator, the Louisiana Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Southern University Law Center.

All sessions are free to attend. For more information, go to Launch.

Who qualifies for
Restore Louisiana Small Business Loans?

Gov. John Bel Edwards announced earlier this month that the period is now open for the Restore Louisiana Small Business Loan Program, a federally funded lending program that will provide assistance for non-construction expenses to eligible small businesses and nonprofits affected by 2020-21 disaster events.

“Louisiana’s small businesses have and will continue to shape our local and state economies, and we’re pleased to announce that this avenue to recovery is now available,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “This program provides critical assistance to Louisiana businesses that were adversely impacted by the 2020-21 disaster events, and I encourage all eligible businesses to take advantage of this opportunity to learn more and apply.”

To qualify for a loan, businesses must have 1-50 full-time employees; have been open at the time of the disaster event; have a minimum of $25,000 in annual gross revenues before the disaster event; have been located in an eligible parish and have experienced an eligible unmet need.

The state has allocated $96.1 million through the Small Business Loan Program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In total, HUD has allocated more than $3 billion in Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery funds to the state for long-term recovery efforts for Hurricanes Laura, Delta and Ida and/or the May 2021 Severe Storms.


Information on all Restore Louisiana recovery programs can be found at