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Non-profit forming new chamber to help minority-owned businesses in Alexandria

One non-profit is establishing new chambers to help minority business owners across the state. One is setting up shop here in Cenla.
Published: Mar. 12, 2021 at 2:14 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 12, 2021 at 5:48 PM CST
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Help could be on the way for small business owners.

Pamela Boutte, the owner of “Pamela’s Bayou in a Bowl,” remembers the first day of the pandemic like it happened yesterday.

“It was a Sunday I’ll never forget, and I was like, we’re going to have to start going to Styrofoam, a lot of people are scared about the virus,” said Boutte.

It’s the same story for Renee White-Goolsby, who owns De’Laune De’Lors Jewelz and Boutique. She had to leave her storefront location at the Alexandria Mall.

“We decided to just get out of the location that we were in and basically just run it from, you know, from home,” said White-Goolsby.

It didn’t take long for the times to take a toll on her business.

“People want to see, touch, feel and try. So it took an impact on the business because, at that point, people weren’t able to do that,” said White-Goolsby.

Now that we’re rounding out a year into the pandemic, things are still hard for these small business owners.

“The business wasn’t great, but it was enough to kind of keep us afloat, and although we fell behind financially, we still were able to keep going,” said Boutte.

White-Goolsby wants to get out of running her boutique from home and back into the storefront.

“At this point right now, it’s just, it’s a no-go without any help and funding,” she said.

But help may be on the way. One non-profit is establishing new chambers to help minority business owners across the state. One is setting up shop here in Cenla.

“It’s really designed to get these businesses set up, to get these businesses functional,” said Chamber President, Keneshelia Smith.

The ‘Alexandria Regional Black Chamber of Commerce’ is set up to provide training, networking and other resources. Something the boutique owner says she could have used when she first opened up shop.

“If you’re starting a new business then you’re starting it often out of your own pocket, such as I did, without a loan or grants or anything like that. You know it can become very, very expensive, and you can also make a lot of mistakes,” said White-Goolsby.

White-Goolsby says she plans on using the new resource.

“The chamber is going to be able to provide us with a lot of resources as far as small businesses are concerned and people that are looking to start a business so that you know where to go so you’re not dumping money.”

She hopes she can use the chamber to get back on her feet successfully.

The ‘Alexandria Regional Black Chamber of Commerce’ is currently looking for board members.

If you’re interested, or want to get more information, you can go here.

The chamber president is also working on a new non-profit to help business owners further. The new initiative, known as ‘Club Cares,’ is getting ready to launch on March 22.

For more information on the new chamber, you can visit the website here.

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