Wednesday, September 23, 2015

WMWO Chamber and KEDM Public Radio to host candidates meet and greet

Fall elections are right around the corner and not just for the Louisiana Governor's race.  There are a number of local races that directly impact the West Monroe and West Ouachita area.

To help educate the public on these races, the WMWO Chamber of Commerce and KEDM Public Radio will host a candidates "meet and greet" on Tuesday, September 29 at the West Monroe Convention Center.  The event will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

This event is free and open to the general public.

The purpose of the event is to make the public aware of who is running for public office and the issues facing our community. On Saturday, October 24, voters will be asked to select a handful of state leaders ranging from Governor to Attorney General. There are, however, a number of local races that need to be decided. The public will be asked to select state representatives and a senator for the Louisiana Legislature as well as a Ouachita Parish Police Jury representative and a Ouachita Parish sheriff.

Candidates vying for these positions have been invited to attend the September 29 meet and greet. Each candidate will be given a limited amount of time to address the audience. This event is not a debate - no questions will be asked from the moderator. However, candidates are encouraged to remain afterwards and visit one-on-one with those who attend.

Several incumbents faced no competition this season and were automatically renewed for another term in office. Those elected officials have also been invited to attend and visit with the public.

Whether or not you can attend this event, please take time to inform yourself of those who are running for public office. Election Day is Saturday, October 24, and early voting will be held October 10-17 (except on Sunday). The Louisiana Secretary of State's office is a wealth of election information - learn more at

For more information about the meet and greet on September 29, call the WMWO Chamber of Commerce at (318) 325-1961.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

September is National Preparedness Month - are you prepared to weather the storm?

For most of the community, being prepared for a disaster means having an adequate supply of bottled water, batteries and canned goods on hand. But for the thousands of small business owners, preparing for the possibility of a disaster is a complex and daunting task. Most business owners are unsure of even where to start. Unfortunately, those that are most prepared are often those that have suffered a tremendous loss and had to rebuild.

The West Monroe-West Ouachita Chamber of Commerce, in support of National Preparedness Month, has prepared some information and tips to help business owners weather the storm.

Develop a Preparedness Plan

A good plan will address several key areas: physical safety, protection of assets, and reestablishment of services. In order to protect the physical safety of both personnel and patrons, you must have and post an updated evacuation plan. This plan should be inclusive and address any possible disabilities and restrictions. All organizations should also have a shelter-in-place plan. Personnel should be trained and knowledgeable so that they can assist any patrons or visitors in the case of an emergency.

Proper protection of assets is essential in determining a business’s ability of bounce back from a disaster. First and foremost, consult your insurance agent annually to update records and determine if your coverage is still adequate. Secondly, back up all financial records and store them offsite. Your CPA will gladly maintain an electronic backup of your records, but documentation and day-to-day registers should also be properly protected. There are many options, from as simple as a home-office safe to an electronic cloud storage system. Determine what is right for the size of your business, but be consistent and diligent.  

After a disaster, quick and effective reestablishment of services is vital for the wellbeing of your business and often your community. Determine beforehand how you will communicate with both employees and the public. Plan for contingencies and receive additional training if avenues such as social media are outside your comfort. Assign roles to personnel when appropriate, allowing for individual expertise to assist in the process.

Make Hazard Mitigation a Priority

Many times when considering disasters and planning, we think about natural disasters that impact the entire community. Fortunately tornados, hurricanes and wildfires are not faced regularly. But hazards that require planning and preparation are much broader and unfortunately much more frequent than we often consider. Electrical fires, ruptures of pipes or even vandalism are all examples of disasters that any business could face – each resulting in shutdown and lost revenue.

A large part of being prepared is being proactive. Keep electrical and mechanical components in good repair. Ensure that all installations or repairs are performed by qualified technicians. Conduct regular physical inspections of your business and require employees to report any concerns immediately. All of these efforts will work to decrease the impact of these confined disasters, reducing your financial loss.


A plan is only effective if it is implemented. Each year, set aside time to work with staff on safety hazards and disaster responses. Since September is National Preparedness Month, make it your month to focus on updating home and business disaster plans, meeting with your CPA and insurance agent, and scheduling maintenance inspections. Reprint and post new evacuation and shelter-in-place plans.

Lastly, remember - preparation, planning and implementation are the tools for success of any business! To learn more tips about preparedness in your home or business, please visit