NEW ORLEANS – United States Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Chair Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Karen Mills, Administrator of the Small Business Administration, today hosted a Small Business Outreach Conference in New Orleans to provide participants with information on federal and state small business assistance programs. The event was the fifth outreach conference hosted by the Small Business Committee. Previous conferences were held in Lafayette, Lake Charles, Shreveport and Baton Rouge.

“Too often, politics in Washington gets in the way of helping people back at home,” Sen. Landrieu said when opening the event. “On the news you hear about the political back and forth between parties and their leaders, but you never really get to hear how you are affected by the changes. We’re here today to tell you about some of these changes in Washington and how they can help your business.”

“In these tough economic times, SBA's programs and resources are even more critical to small businesses,” said SBA Administrator Karen Mills. “The SBA has many tools in our toolbox to help small businesses gain access to much-needed capital and a strong network of partners who can provide assistance to small businesses to help them adapt their business plan in today’s current economic environment, as well as grow and create jobs.”

At today’s conference, the Small Business Committee worked with the SBA and Louisiana Economic Development (LED) to provide brief overviews of SBA lending programs, federal contracting opportunities, LED’s Small and Emerging Business Development Program and other programs to help small businesses maintain and grow their businesses in this tough economic climate.

Officials from the SBA, LED and Louisiana Small Business Development Centers joined Sen. Landrieu’s staff, which includes Staff Director and Chief Legal Counsel Donald Cravins, Jr., a former State Senator from Louisiana, to discuss top concerns for entrepreneurs.

In her remarks, Sen. Landrieu encouraged conference participants to ask staff from the Small Business Committee, SBA and LED questions about available programs to assist their small businesses.

“This is your chance to get the real meat of what the Recovery Act means for you and your business,” Sen. Landrieu said. “You have the people with the real answers right here ready to answer your questions. I encourage you to make use of this valuable time.”