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Small Business and Nonprofits


Gulf Opportunity Zone Act
Small Business Assistance
Nonprofit Assistance


Gulf Opportunity Zone Act

The Gulf Opportunity (GO) Zone Act of 2005 provides for Federal Tax Incentives to areas affected by Hurricane Katrina.  For a summary of the legislation, click here.


Small Business Assistance


Federal Resources


All businesses seeking disaster assistance should first register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and complete disaster assistance request forms to start the application process for federal disaster loans administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA).  With an authorization number, businesses will be referred to SBA for financial assistance.  Businesses do not have to go to the SBA disaster recovery centers to apply for assistance. 


The U.S. Small Business Administration website contains a wealth of information for businesses seeking loans, grants or general assistance from the Small Business Administration.


The U.S. Small Business Administration's Disaster Recovery website contains information regarding Disaster Notices, its Disaster Recovery Mission, Disaster Declarations, FAQ's about SBA Disaster Loans, Loan Information including Home & Property Loans, Physical Disaster Loans, Economic Injury Loans, Military Reservist Loans, and Disaster Loans Approved.


SBA offers Physical Disaster Business Loans to repair or replace any business that is located in a declared disaster area and incurred damage during Hurricane Katrina.  The SBA makes physical disaster loans of up to $1.5 million to qualified businesses. 


SBA’s Economic Injury Loans For Small Businesses provides financial assistance to small businesses that suffered substantial economic injury, regardless of physical damage, and are located in a declared disaster area.


Small businesses in 67 Mississippi counties affected by Hurricane Katrina will be eligible for a new U.S. Small Business Administration-backed loan of up to $150,000.  The loans will be delivered through local banks and will be handled under an expedited process that can deliver a response in 24 hours or less.  GO Loans will be available through September 30, 2006, and will be modeled on SBA Express Loans, which are made by commercial lenders and carry an SBA guarantee.  For the GO Loan program, the SBA guaranty percentage will be 85%.  Under the program, lenders will generally use their own paperwork and be responsible for evaluating the creditworthiness of applicants.  The decision on whether to apply an SBA guaranty to the loans will be made on an expedited basis, with an anticipated turnaround by SBA of 24 hours or less.  For more information, visit the SBA Go Loan website.


The Department of Homeland Security's Open for Business program centralizes information to provide businesses with information about how to work with the Department of Homeland Security.  Designed to assist the business community, the information includes links to contracts, grants, small business opportunities, research and development, and contacts.  


The U.S. Department of Commerce has created the Hurricane Contracting Information Center, which provides a central point of reference for businesses, especially minority-owned businesses, women-owned businesses and small- and medium-size enterprises, to register for and become aware of federal contracting opportunities in the Gulf Coast. While the HCIC does not award contracts, its mission is to ensure that businesses understand the process and are aware when opportunities become available.


Vendors wanting to provide products or services in the area affected by Hurricane Katrina should visit www.fbo.gov/katrina.html.  Vendors that are new to federal contracting should start by registering at this site.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development offers programs to finance business development programs in rural areas (population of 25,000 or less).  For information on USDA’s Rural Business and Cooperative Programs, click here.


The U.S. Department of Labor Hurricane Job Recovery Connection connects workers needing jobs with employers who want to hire them.  The site also allows employers to list available jobs online.


The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced changes in tax laws that benefit small businesses affected by Hurricane Katrina.  The IRS website provides information about the types of tax relief assistance available to areas affected by Hurricane Katrina, along with other general information about the IRS and its services. 


State and Local Resources

As the State of Mississippi's lead economic and community development agency, the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) is engaged in providing services to businesses and communities in the state.   While the agency is best known for its efforts to recruit new businesses to Mississippi, MDA also provides services to help communities improve their quality of place and helps existing employers identify and meet opportunities and challenges - all with the goal of improving the quality of life and economic well-being of Mississippians.  For information on MDA’s business programs and resources, click here.


In partnership with several public and private organizations associated with the building construction community, the Disaster Contractors Network (DCN) has been activated for the State of Mississippi.  The DCN website is designed to help connect contractors and homeowners/business owners who need repairs after disasters and can serve to connect building contractors with need subcontractors and material vendors.


The Southern Mississippi Planning and Development District's mission is to identify and capitalize on the development potential in Mississippi's 15 southern counties.  The SMPDD provides a myriad of resources for businesses and developers looking to do business in  South Mississippi.


The South Mississippi Contract Procurement Center is a private nonprofit corporation that assists Mississippi businesses with obtaining and successfully performing on federal, state and local government contracts.  Services are provided to Mississippi businesses only and are provided at no charge. 


The Harrison County Development Commission works in cooperation with the public and private sectors to conduct economic development activities in Harrison County.


The Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce is the umbrella organization under which all the local chambers operate.  The Coast Chamber serves as the voice of business along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  They also strive to serve as a conduit for information on key business issues affecting the economy and lifestyle of Gulf Coast residents. 


Mississippi Small Business Development Centers are one-stop resource centers for a variety of counseling, workshops and information services for existing businesses and start-ups.  The Mississippi Small Business Development Centers are also helping to guide people through the process of applying for SBA federal emergency business loans at locations in South Mississippi.  Contact the Gulf Coast SBDC at 228-466-9145.


The Gulf Coast Business Technology Center (GCBTC) provides an atmosphere that encourages the development of small, start-up businesses and enables them to survive.  The GCBTC provides office and light manufacturing space, business counseling, access to shared services, office equipment, complete telecommunications/internet capabilities, and access to common areas for one reasonable price.  The GCBTC also provides the opportunity for new businesses to interact with other entrepreneurs - people with similar goals and challenges - in an environment that promotes success.  The GCBTC also manages the Greater Biloxi Economic Development Foundation's Revolving Loan Fund.  Call the GCBTC at 228-392-9744.


The Mississippi Department of Employment Security offers programs to businesses through the U.S. Department of Labor’s Workforce Investment Act National Emergency Grant.  On-the-Job Training (OJT) is a program that assists employers in training inexperienced workers.  The Workforce Investment Network (WIN) provides convenient, one-stop employment and training services to employers and job seekers. 


The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) Ombudsman assists businesses in obtaining information on regulatory issues and aids in investigating and resolving complaints and disputes between businesses and MDEQ.


The Mississippi Department of Insurance website provides a wealth of information about the state's insurance climate, and it lists answers to many questions about the logistics of filing insurance claims, complaints against insurance companies and other general questions.


Properties in Mississippi that are immediately available for doing business are listed on MDA's website.


For all information regarding temporary or permanent building and land permits, please call the office of the Secretary of State Customer Service number at 601-359-1633, or the Regulatory and Enforcement Office at 601-359-6371.


Other Resources


The North Carolina Department of Crime Control and Public Safety's Division of Emergency Management has created a Small Business Initiative to provide resources for minimizing the effects of natural disasters.


The Federal Home Loan Bank offers the Economic Development Disaster Relief Grant Program (EDRG) that provides working capital to small businesses in officially declared disaster areas to promote economic development, and create or retain jobs. 


The Institute for Business & Home Safety's Open for Businesssm is a comprehensive disaster planning toolkit in booklet and CD-Rom formats.  It includes an assessment tool that helps small to mid-sized businesses determine susceptibility to disasters and minimize risks.  The toolkit also includes materials to help organize the business' critical information and review its essential operations, both of which lead to developing a business continuity plan.





The Mississippi Center for Nonprofits provides a multitude of services for the nonprofit community in Mississippi.  Services offered include networking and information, training and technical assistance, cost-saving opportunities and advocacy.


Operation R.I.S.E. (Rebuilding Infrastructure in Service Entities) is an initiative created by the Mississippi Center for Nonprofits to gather resources and information in order to help organize efficient, effective recovery efforts following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.  Its core mission is to increase the capacity of the state's nonprofit sector and to help Gulf Coast and South Mississippi nonprofits rebuild. 

A document listing assistance available through nonprofits has been created by FEMA's ESF-14.  The document includes funding available to non-governmental organizations and citizens. 


The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development offers several programs for nonprofit organizations.

The U.S. Government provides support for faith-based initiatives.  Click here for a listing of Faith-Based Offices in Federal Agencies


The Mississippi Home Corporation created the Habitat Loan Purchase Program to provide funding for the Mississippi-based affiliates of Habitat for Humanity.  The program involves local affiliates of Habitat and MHC working together to provide the opportunity for safe, decent and affordable housing for low income Mississippians.  Habitat is responsible for constructing and financing the home for eligible families, and MHC provides the permanent funding by purchasing the loans from the Habitat affiliate.


The Gulf Coast Community Foundation is a public charity dedicated to the progressive development of worthy causes, providing donor services, and promoting and providing leadership in response to changing community needs. The Foundation is a vehicle for charitable giving through which individuals, families, corporations, non-profit organizations and private foundations can meet charitable objectives in the fields of education, arts and culture, historic preservation, neighborhood enrichment, and health and human services.


The Foundation for the Mid South works to build the communities, resources and leadership of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi through change strategies based on regional cooperation.  It does so by using private philanthropic resources to fund, develop, and promote programs in its current areas of interest including education, economic development, and families and children.  The Foundation has established several programs to benefit nonprofits working to rebuild the lives and communities affected by the disaster. 


The Disability Funders Network Rapid Response Fund has been launched to help nonprofits meet the recovery needs of people with disabilities in the Gulf Region.   The Fund is offering mini-grants to nonprofit organizations to meet specific needs which include, but are not limited to, transportation, shelter, medication, medical equipment and assistive technology. Grants will be disbursed directly to organizations with the capacity to affect the greatest need among hurricane victims.

Komen Foundation Patient Services Grants are intended to enable nonprofit institutions and providers of breast cancer care in communities affected by Hurricane Katrina.  Funding is designed to assist breast cancer care providers with patient treatment needs, including pharmaceutical and medical supplies; transportation of patients to and from treatment; child care for patients undergoing treatment and patient navigation services. Requests of up to $30,000 will be considered.


MTV and Youth Venture are offering Hope Venture Grants of up to $1,000 to support young people who want to launch a venture - an organization, club, or business - that will aid those affected by Hurricane Katrina.  First priority will be given to proposals that support the creation of sustainable ventures that aid the citizens and communities who have lost so much from this disaster. A second priority will be proposals to start organizations solely for the purpose of raising and distributing funds for those in need.


The Community Foundation of South Alabama, United Way of Southwest Alabama, Inc. and WKRG TV5 in Mobile, Alabama are offering grants to nonprofits in the coastal areas of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana that serve victims of Hurricane Katrina. All funds will be allocated to agencies that engage in helping their clients with human and social services and community disaster relief. Funding for the grants will be taken from the Relief Fund to which the public has donated. Grants will be awarded while funds are available. For a grant application, click here.