LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — The Opportunity Machine in Lafayette is offering free workspaces for small business owners who have been displaced because of Hurricane Ida. They are also offering mentoring for small business owners who are going through a disaster for the very first time.
“Besides space, we also want to make sure that they are getting access to a list of our mentors. We do have a lot of mentors who have been through multiple disasters with their business and understand what it’s like to get back up on your feet,” says Opportunity Machine Executive Director Destin Ortego.
OM mentors are offering free office hours to any displaced small business owner in need. Heidi Melancon is a mentor with the OM and the Director of the Louisiana small business development center at UL Lafayette. She was hired after Hurricane Katrina to help with disaster loans.
“We are going to go into disaster mode and help our business owners with help with their SBA loans or any direction they need,” says Melancon, “People just don’t know what to do and they don’t know how to apply for a loan. In some cases they may have to re-piece together some of their profit and loss statements, so we can help them with projections of cash flow for the loan. That’s what we’re here for.”
There is still an urgent need for basic necessities and Southeast Louisiana. Around 250,000 people in the state are still without power.
Melancon says people are still in a state of shock.
“People’s homes are shattered and they don’t know where they’re going to be living or where their children are gonna be going to school,” Melancon said. “The business time is going to come but you’re going to start to see that demand in a week or two because people will be able to turn their attention to their business. Right now the most I think is still first and foremost basic needs of living.”
For more information on available office space and the mentoring program, you can contact the OM by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.