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Thrive New Orleans to help entrepreneurs cultivate business growth with Hancock Whitney grant

March 5, 2021
Sunada Brookins
Sunada Brookins

With only two percent of all sales receipts going to minority-owned businesses in the Crescent City, Thrive New Orleans is on a mission to change that statistic. Through their Launch NOLA initiative, Thrive New Orleans aims to help underserved, urban entrepreneurs gain the competency, confidence, capital and connections necessary to start and grow their own small businesses.


Recently Hancock Whitney awarded Thrive New Orleans a $25,000 competitive grant to support Launch NOLA. At Hancock Whitney, we believe investing in organizations and programs that provide opportunities for underrepresented individuals and small businesses help build stronger communities; and there is no doubt Launch NOLA is providing vital services to entrepreneurs in Greater New Orleans and working to help the region prosper.


Thrive photo

With the $25,000 Hancock Whitney competitive grant award, Thrive New Orleans can continue helping entrepreneurs of color garner the know-how, resources, and guidance to cultivate well-planned small business growth and success Pictured (from left): Hancock Whitney Director of Community Reinvestment Act & Fair Lending Sunada Brookins, Hancock Whitney President Joe Exnicios, and Thrive New Orleans Executive Director Chuck Morse.


Cultivating Success

Launch NOLA believes that the economic opportunity entrepreneurship creates should be accessible to all. Through core programming of business training, mentoring, networking and accessing capital, Launch focuses on serving businesses with revenues below $150,000.


During spring 2020, Launch led Payroll Protection Program (PPP) outreach efforts to businesses of color and discovered that many small businesses could not receive financial assistance due to problems with legal compliance and/or accounting while struggling with challenges that come from being underbanked. With the grant award, Launch will host specialized “Get Official” seminars addressing topics such as business filings, basic accounting practices, taxes, and financial statements. To further their efforts in supporting small businesses, Launch will also offer a meet-and-greet with local bankers to help answer financial questions and offer one-on-one coaching sessions to a select group of participants.


The Hancock Whitney grant will make it possible for small businesses to participate in the programming at no charge.


“We cannot express our gratitude enough for Hancock Whitney's investment in our mission and community,” said Thrive New Orleans Executive Director Chuck Morse. “Our entrepreneurs have faced so many new barriers during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as ineligibility for PPP loans. Grants like these bolster our ability to meet these entrepreneurs where they are and provide them with much-needed tailored support.”


The Hancock Whitney competitive grants initiative—now in its third year—is part of the bank’s Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) program. In 2020 Hancock Whitney gave a total of $200,000 in competitive grants to 12 eligible organizations across the Gulf South currently supporting small businesses through technical assistance and entrepreneurship training.


Hancock Whitney’s competitive grant program opens to applicants each fall. Hancock Whitney currently supports non-profit organizations serving 30 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) and non-MSAs in the bank’s five-state footprint.