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April 5, 2000

Local nominees recognized by US Small Business Administration

Louisiana's top entrepreneurs -- and the State of Louisiana Small Business Person of the Year -- will be recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) at an April 18 luncheon in Baton Rouge.

Three of this year's winners are from the Monroe area, and two of Louisiana's small business advocates, Reverend Alvin Walker, Renewal, Inc., Minority Small Business Advocate and Mr. Austin Jones, owner of Austin's Pins, will receive outstanding recognition because they earned the state and regional award from the five-state area of Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. Walker was nominated by the Ouachita Enterprise Community and Jones by the University of Louisiana at Monroe Entrepreneurship Studies Center, the Ouachita Economic Development Corporation and the Monroe and West Monroe/West Ouachita Chambers of Commerce.

Robert and Surena McNeal, co-owners of R&S Janitorial and Maid Service, nominated by the ULM Entrepreneurship Studies Center and the Ouachita Enterprise Community, were designated state winners of the Welfare to Work Small Business Owners of the Year.

Other honorees are: State Small Business Person of the Year, Mr. Barry P. Edwards, Creative Presentations, Metairie; State Woman in Business Advocate, Ms. Betty Fontaine, Fontaine's Boutique, New Roads.

The luncheon will be hosted by the SBA in conjunction with the State of Louisiana, Department of Economic Development, BellSouth Corporation and Hibernia National Bank, the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), and the Louisiana Small Business Development Centers. This year's event will take place at the Hilton Hotel in Baton Rouge and is part of the celebration for Small Business Week. U.S. Representative Richard Baker will deliver the keynote address.

The half-day celebration will begin with a free seminar from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on "SBA Lending: Your Bridge to a New Beginning." SBA experts will discuss the various SBA lending programs and how these programs can be leveraged to provide greater access to capital for Louisiana's small businesses. Under the direction of district director Allison B. Randolph, III, the Louisiana SBA office has launched several new initiatives that will further the cause for small business development.

The cost of the luncheon is $30 per person. To reserve a seat, make checks payable to "SCORE Chapter #44" and send to SCORE c/o the U.S. Small Business Administration, 365 Canal Street, Suite 2250, New Orleans, Louisiana 70130 or reservations may be faxed to (504) 589-2339. Reservations are due April 14. To receive more information on the Louisiana Small Business Week celebration, contact the U.S. Small Business Administration at (504) 589-2756 or 580-2744. Additional information about SBA and its programs is available at SBA's home page: or by calling the SBA Answer Desk at 1800-8-ASK-SBA.

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