Small Business Development with Lynnette White-Colin: NOLABA Case Study
Economic development matters to New Orleans because business growth leads to greater economic security for more people. We continue our case studies with small business development. The city’s 27,000 small businesses are in many ways the heart and soul of the economy. NOLABA hired Lynnette White-Colin in 2016 to focus solely on the small business ecosystem, and she describes her daily efforts to grow this sector.
In what ways has NOLABA redoubled its efforts to assist small business development in New Orleans?
LWC: One of our main concerns is to make sure the needs of small business owners are answered effectively to ensure their sustainability and ultimately, success. Very often, critical needs of our minority and women-owned businesses are not addressed. There are a number of reasons why. In many instances, the business owner is the only employee; frankly, they cannot afford time away from the business to obtain the assistance they need. Often, they are just not aware that technical assistance is available, and very often it is free. And still other times, they are just not knowledgeable about what they actually need. My goal is to utilize my many years of experience to assess what they really need and then get them to the most effective assistance available.
What other small business outreach will NOLABA do to foster high growth and create new wealth among small businesses?
LWC: A few things are upcoming. First, we will conduct an extensive survey to gather information about our local small and micro-enterprises. We want to find out what they see as critical needs, what resources they know about, and which they have or haven’t taken advantage of. The results of the survey will aid in informing gaps that exist in both services available and communication of those services. Additionally, NOLABA will present a quarterly small business networking event in March that allows business owners to meet local business assistance professionals and share ideas with other business owners.
In your experience, why do small businesses like to set up shop in New Orleans?
LWC: In the minority community, a lot of people are just entrepreneurs at heart. It’s also true of New Orleanians in general. After Hurricane Katrina, a lot of people became business owners out of necessity. People returned, but their jobs did not. While an entrepreneurial ecosystem had existed, it was kicked into overdrive post-Katrina. Now it’s about advancing capacity and developing more opportunities for our small business owners to help them to be successful.