My first week as president of NOLA Media Group was extraordinary, punctuated by the historic and unprecedented flooding suffered by our neighbors and friends up the road.

These are not simply fellow citizens of Louisiana. They forever became much more to us in 2005, when they took us into their homes and their hearts when we were homeless. Any of you who followed our coverage last week, or drove up I-10 and I-12 to lend a hand, heard and saw the tragic echoes of Hurricane Katrina.

Early Sunday morning I received a text from Adam Knapp, CEO of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, asking how New Orleans helped its small businesses recover after Hurricane Katrina. From his early reports, over 12,000 small businesses are devastated. The key to their recovery is opening their doors again as soon as possible.

New Orleans can help.

The NOLA Media Group, in partnership with the Foundation for Louisiana, has created the One Louisiana Fund. The fund will help small businesses get up and running again by rapidly giving grants to businesses affected by the Louisiana Flood of 2016.

NOLA Media Group has pledged $100,000 to start the fund. We challenge other businesses, individuals and organizations to contribute. You can pledge your support at nola.com/onelouisianafund.

New Orleans learned that the long journey of recovery starts with a friend helping a friend. When the levees breached in 2005, I was the CEO of The Idea Village, an organization dedicated to helping entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. One of the friends who helped New Orleans then was Baton Rouge native Lori Bertman of the Southern Women’s Action Network.

I was still spending my nights sleeping on a friend’s floor in Baton Rouge when Lori offered $20,000 for triage grants for New Orleans businesses. Her trust and generosity was the spark that ignited a movement, and accelerated business recovery and growth for a decade.

We stand with the people of Baton Rouge. We know that they can’t yet see over the piles of muck and debris and sadness, to the opportunity that stands before them to transform their community into something they couldn’t imagine before the water came. But we in New Orleans know a thing or two about the character of our neighbors to the west.

We are One Louisiana. And we will do our small part to help them rise again.

Who’s with us?

See the full article here.

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