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Louisiana Chamber of Commerce Foundation non-profit establishing new chambers across state

Each chamber will be specifically focused on minority and rural business development
Published: Mar. 4, 2021 at 4:17 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 4, 2021 at 4:41 PM CST
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - One non-profit is focused on helping minority-owned businesses and job seekers across the state, including Cenla.

The Louisiana Chamber of Commerce Foundation, a non-profit advocacy group, is establishing new chambers of commerce across the state.

“We are establishing new chambers that are specifically focused on minority and rural businesses,” said Louisiana Chamber of Commerce Foundation Executive Director Kelisha Garrett.

The foundation, which will act as an umbrella over the newly formed chambers, will provide technical assistance, training and monetary donations.

“We will provide these resources so that their foundation can be built, as well as assist them with being able to communicate throughout their communities to individuals to encourage participation in the chamber of commerce,” said Garrett.

One of those chambers is setting up shop in Alexandria. Garrett says the goal is simple.

“These chambers that we are looking to bring into existence are more specifically to help those Black, indigenous people of color with having networking, advocacy and awareness of opportunities for their businesses.”

The Cenla chapter, which will be known as the “Alexandria Regional Black Chamber of Commerce,” is looking to help local minority-owned businesses.

“I see a need for minority business owners here to be supported,” said Keneshelia Smith, President of the Alexandria Regional Black Chamber of Commerce.

Once the chamber is set up, they will provide training for small business owners, networking opportunities and development.

“We’re seeing a lot of spike in entrepreneurship within the minority, Black community, and we really want to give them that support so that they can be able to build their businesses, become sustainable business owners within the Alexandria ecosystem,” said Smith.

The training will get entrepreneurs prepared to do business not only within the city but also statewide.

“Our plan is to connect those businesses within Alexandria with the over 30,000 businesses that are listed across the state of Louisiana, making sure that we can grow their business, while we also have more acknowledgment of their business being in existence,” said Garrett.

The hope is that these chambers will lead to new job opportunities.

“We do believe with the support that they can grow, they can be sustainable and they can provide jobs,” said Smith.

With more opportunities and job openings, Garrett says the chambers should lead to a growth in both our local and state economy.

“This will impact the community, it will have those dollars recirculating in our community and it is imperative for the City of Alexandria, the region, as well as the state to acknowledge our business community.”

While, most importantly, encouraging diversity across the state and in Cenla.

“I believe in the minority community here, I believe in what they can do with just a little bit of support, and I believe that they have the ability to build sustainable, long-lasting businesses.”

Keneshelia Smith, President of the Alexandria Regional Black Chamber of Commerce

The Alexandria Regional Minority Chamber of Commerce is currently looking for board members.

To get more information, you can email info@lachamberfoundation.org, communications@labizspeaks.org, or call 504-655-7572.

The Alexandria chapter joins other African American chambers across the state, including Lake Charles, Baton Rouge, Monroe and Shreveport.

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