SBA relief, growing businesses

Gov.’s wife joins effort to build Gray Habitat home
May 18, 2010
Thursday, May 20
May 20, 2010
Gov.’s wife joins effort to build Gray Habitat home
May 18, 2010
Thursday, May 20
May 20, 2010

Small businesses and non-profit groups across south Louisiana could soon be turning to the U.S. Small Business Administration for a much-needed financial boost.

In the wake of the BP oil spill, which has halted fishing activities in some areas of the Gulf of Mexico, many of these establishments will have to come to terms with decreased revenue. While the effects of the accident have not been fully realized, those embedded in the commercial fishing industry are already starting to worry.

A representative from the SBA was in Houma last week and shared the organization’s latest aims to support local fisherman and the businesses that deal with them on a daily basis. For those that cannot meet their financial obligations, like payroll, accounts payable and fixed debts, Economic Injury Disaster Loans could provide an invaluable service, said SBA spokesperson Roger Busch.

“SBA’s economic injury loans can provide vital assistance to fishing and fishing-dependent businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing,” explained SBA Administrator Karen Mills in a news release.

The loans, which are available in 34 parishes, including Lafourche, Terrebonne and St. Mary, offer smaller entities up to $2 million in working capital with a 4 percent interest rate, provided they cannot find credit elsewhere. Non-profits may also be eligible for similar loans with slightly lower interest rates of 3 percent.

Applicants borrowing more than $5,000 will need collateral.

The SBA also announced Monday that owners of approved organizations will not have to make payments on their loans for one year. “By taking this step, we are helping to ensure the continued viability of these small businesses,” said Mills in a release.

Officials with the Terrebonne Economic Development Authority (TEDA) said they supported the SBA in their efforts and urged potential applicants to contact their offices for help during a routine board meeting last Tuesday. The local development group has also recently helped fuel the Vessels for Opportunity program, which allows area fisherman to assist in oil spill cleanup efforts for compensation.

For many, supporting the small business arena is the key to bolstering economic success, something seen rarely in tough economic times.

“With the region still recovering from previous devastation and the national recession of the last couple years, it’s critical that we take every step we can to provide small businesses with resources to make it through this latest crisis so they can continue to drive local economic growth and provide good-paying jobs,” said Mills in the release.

The SBA has set up information stations at the South Lafourche Public Library in Cut Off and the Government Towers in Houma. Counselors from the Louisiana Small Business Development Center will be available to answer questions about the loan process and help people fill out their applications. The centers are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.


For K and B Machine, a Houma-based machine shop, the 1970s gave way to success. By the ’80s, the business was growing into a full-service machining, threading and manufacturing company that catered to the oilfield industry.

Today, about 30 years later, the shop is looking to expand, said Kenny Wood Jr., the company’s president. K and B is currently working to erect a shop in Pennsylvania, but is also making plans to grow operations in Houma, despite the oil spill.

TEDA approved a Gulf Opportunity Zone Bond issuance last week to help fuel the construction of a new, larger shop. The funds will not exceed $40 million, officials said.

The new building will be built on Rebecca Pond Plantation off of La. Highway 311 on a 35-acre lot. Wood said that the company’s customer inventory services division is located at the site, but “…what we plan on doing is moving this facility from the east side to the west side, put everything under one roof, make everything more efficient.”

The building that is currently located on Grand Caillou Road will be sold or rented once that transition takes place, he said.

Between the company’s locations in Houston and Houma, there are about 300 employees. Wood said that the new facility in Houma could gave way to a 10 percent increase in workforce, adding skilled laborer and machinist positions.

For the last 7 to 8 years, the company has continued to increase its workforce by similar margins.

While some of K and B’s work stems from BP, Wood expressed commitment to making the new project a success. “If we can just get the spill stopped,” he said.

Jason Roussel, born and raised in Houma, inspects threads on a fitting to make sure the diameters are up to par. * Photo by MICHAEL DAVIS