According to the Louisiana Department of Economic Development, approximately 81,000 businesses in ten Louisiana parishes were affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. To date, about 29,000 remain closed.
For those small businesses that have reopened, staying in business continues to be a struggle. Even seven months after Hurricane Katrina, business is still sluggish for the many small firms that don’t sell refrigerators, essential clothing, and other in-demand goods and services. While many owners have had the resolve and determination to come back and reopen, the harsh reality that they may have to close their doors permanently due to a lack of business is growing.Local, state and federal programs have been created to help businesses recover. Bridge loans are a popular assistance source available from several sources, but many agree it is not enough and that more must be done.
As critics correctly point out, small business are an essential component of Louisiana’s ability to rebuild and prosper. If they fail, then what?