While much of the groundwork has been laid to begin bringing businesses into Minden, the focus will now shift to small business.

Minden Economic Development Director James Graham says they are preparing to lay the foundation for the Consortium that will manage the Tax Increment Financing Districts recently created, and begin talks with small businesses about expansion.

“Small business is the backbone of Minden, as it is for a lot of communities, but particularly Minden,” he said. “Most of the businesses are home-based, and some of them grew to be larger, hiring hundreds of people. So now we want to start that tradition again.”

The Consortium is a 501(c)3 private, nonprofit organization, comprised of a board of directors of five people, each one representing one of the five TIF districts. Graham will serve as the Consortium’s executive director. It will manage the TIF districts on behalf of the city and on behalf of the Webster Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“This Consortium will also be working with individuals who want to start up or expand a small business,” he said. “It will also be working on commercial real estate projects. People are responding to new possibilities, and I can’t wait.”

He says it is important that potential entrepreneurs and small businesses know they can come to the economic development department and talk in confidence about their strategies and plans, whether they are starting a business or looking at expansion.

Graham will be reaching out to business owners in several ways and one of those is through the Minden-South Webster Chamber of Commerce.

“You need a strong chamber of commerce to partner with economic development,” he said. “So, it’s important that the chamber puts in place its chief executive officer, its president, as soon as possible so that other things can fall into place.”

For instance, the partnership can offer workshops on small business, and in addition to the workshops and seminars, Graham says funding sources need to be developed for small business.

While the Small Business Association is one avenue, he says they are working to develop a funding source for start-up businesses.

“The banking community doesn’t do start-ups,” he said. “So, it’s important that we put in place financing for those individuals who want to start a business.”

Over the last year, Graham, the city and other community partners have worked several fronts to create and develop the infrastructure to begin offering incentives to existing businesses and entice new business. The TIF districts were created, and most recently the city’s economic development website and its promotional video were unveiled.