The parish of Ouachita among the best in the state for the strong presence of small businesses
Even with the economic hardships that have hit the nation in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, there is good news locally.
The parish of Ouachita has a favorable climate for success for small businesses. A respected FinTech website says so, and local business owners agree.
SmartAssett.com conducted a study on the best places in the country for small business owners. According to the study, Ouachita Parish ranked among the top 10 parishes in Louisiana for small business presence.
The national study measured IRS data on the number of small businesses operating in each parish, the income they generate, and what they pay in taxes. According to website data, Ouachita Parish contributes 26.39% of state small business income and 10.49% of state small business income, and $ 9,806 in taxes. on the income of small businesses in the parish of Ouachita go to the state.
Kristopher Kelly, communications director for the West Monroe-West Ouachita Chamber of Commerce, said Ouachita Parish is a strong place for small businesses due to support from local and state government and the Chamber. .
“Ouachita Parish is proud to host a community that fosters the development of small businesses,” said Kelly.
West Monroe dentist Dr Matt Turpin thanked the citizens, town management and business owners for the strong commercial presence in the parish.
“I think a lot of it comes from the leadership we have in our city with our mayor, our town hall and also our police jury,” Turpin said. “The main thing that makes business happen here in Ouachita Parish is the people. It’s the hard-working owners and employees, and then the desire of the people in our area to support local businesses.”
Turpin said the community has a selfless attitude and supports each other.
“When I moved to town, the other dentists contacted me and encouraged me, ‘Hey man, if you’re out of town on the weekends and need us to take calls for you, we’ll do it “and vice versa,” Turpin said. “We became friends and not competitors. I feel the same spirit is present in a lot of our local businesses here.”
Tracey Carter of JAC’S Craft Smokehouse in West Monroe also credited the community for the success of her business and said that when one of the biggest employers in the parish left the community the community was still thriving.
“When State Farm left here, the community still thrived,” Carter said. “The community supports inside.”
There are a number of thriving minority-owned businesses in Ouachita Parish, which includes a number of restaurants, dance studios, and used car dealerships.
John Coleman of Coleman Co., a West Monroe car dealership, said that as a minority business owner he must earn the trust of the community.
“People have to trust you and earn your trust in the community when you are a black minority business,” Coleman said. “But once you’ve done that, you’re good to go.”
Coleman and his company recently received the Community Champion Award from the WMWO Chamber of Commerce for their contributions to the community, such as his company’s annual Christmas toy and bicycle giveaway.
Carolyn McClinton-Goodin of Carolyn’s Dance Land in Monroe said owning a black-owned dance studio in the parish was a challenge.
“In the dance world, when I started 10 years ago, some people really didn’t respect the little black girl who came to teach. They always sent their kids and because they thought she was the best. way, “McClinton -Goodin said. “I think our people are now embracing the whole ‘small black business trend’ that’s going on right now. It’s definitely better. I had to grow up where I am now.”
McClinton-Goodin said the state provides grants for the performing arts, which tend to go to predominantly white dance studios in the area.
“We haven’t had the privilege of receiving any of these grants which makes it harder and they can do more in their recitals and do bigger and bigger things because they are receiving thousands of dollars that we don’t see, ”said McClinton- said Goodin.
McClinton-Goodin said she plans to continue providing African-American children in Ouachita Parish with training they would not receive from other dance studios.
“They are not getting the recognition they deserve,” she said.