Nicholls State University’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and Chevron recently partnered to create a virtual competition to assist with COVID-19 small business recovery in several south Louisiana parishes. These parishes included Lafourche, St. Mary, Assumption, and Terrebonne parishes. Part of the competition required each small business to submit a statement on how the pandemic has affected their operations and identify how funds would be used if they were to be selected as one of the winners. SBDC has now awarded eight small businesses $5,000 each to go toward recovery efforts.
“When the COVID-19 pandemic occurred, it created a dark cloud of uncertainty over the Bayou Region and its future,” said Jimmy Nguyen, Assistant Director of SBDC. “Nicholls and SBDC established this contest to provide hope for these businesses to progress forward. With Chevron’s generous donation, it provided not only financial relief but a boost of human energy to help the region overcome these challenges and become stronger.”
“Chevron believes in contributing to the areas where we live and work and, especially during this challenging time, supporting Louisiana small businesses,” said Leah Brown, Public Affairs Manager for Chevron’s Gulf of Mexico Business Unit. “We’re proud to partner with Nicholls to help a diverse group of local companies. Through these funds and the incredible work of Nicholls’ Small Business Development Center, we hope to see these businesses recover and thrive.”
Big Mike’s BBQ is a restaurant with locations in Houma and Thibodaux. Due to COVID-19, they had to lay off more than 50 employees. Plans to move the restaurant to an improved facility were thwarted for at least two years by the loss in sales. Big Mike’s plans to use the small business recovery funding to optimize how it performs to-co and takeout services.
“Winning this grant will give us the opportunity to implement necessary changes to our business quicker than expected,” said Lewis. “It will help us to energize our efforts to recover from the disruption of COVID-19. We are honored to be chosen as a winner, it renews our vision and is confirmation that we are doing all the right things to improve our business and to serve our community.”
Dean and Michael Conner operate Conner’s Repair Service out of Morgan City. Their various services were affected by decreased crude oil prices, and many of their customers have had to make cuts, resulting in a loss of about 40 percent of sales. The Conners plans to hire a new employee to do sandblasting and painting.
“Being a winner in this competition gives us confidence that we are not alone in our mission to bring stronger green initiatives to the oil market and manufacturing back to our country,” said Michael Conner. “We are very grateful for this opportunity and appreciate the recognition for the valuable work we provide for South Louisiana.”
Bonnie Soulet and Casey Soulet are the owners of Country Kids Learning Academy in Bourg, Louisiana. This childcare center provides services to children from birth to age 10, and the pandemic has caused renovations to fall several weeks behind. The academy will use the funds awarded from the small business recovery program to purchase technology to support student learning.
Bonnie Soulet stated, “We look forward to providing these valuable opportunities for our students. This says a lot about our company and the fact that people believe in our business idea, our determination and our knowledge in the childcare and early childhood education industry.”
More details on the individual winners are available in the full article located here.
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