Business Person of the Month: Marcus K. Lewis

As an entrepreneur, Marcus Lewis is dedicated to getting the word out about the business he started in 2003. He was recently profiled in the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report. There's an article about the business on the website of the National Association of Minority Contractors-Southern Region. He even appeared in Ebony Magazine’s 2006 edition showcasing the "Top Bachelors of the Year." He says he didn’t anticipate how large an impact that national exposure would have. "I still meet people who recognize me from that article."

Lewis attended Delgado Community College with plans to become a mortician, but later went to work in industry. He continues to work shift work at a plastics plant, but was inspired to go into custom clothing after he visited a fine clothing store in the area. At first he thought he'd like to open a store himself, but after he investigated the business, he felt an affinity for the close-up, one-on-one, personal service of the custom clothier.

When he started Lewis Pierce Fine Clothing (named in honor of his grandfather) he had only a website as home for his fledgling business. He would see clients in his home or visit them at their home or office. Though Lewis has many well-established, older clients, the majority of his business comes from young entrepreneurs like himself, many of whom work from their homes. His clientele has reached such a point that he was able to rent a seven hundred square foot space in March where he consults with clients by appointment only. "If I show my clients I'm growing, we can grow as a team." Lewis feels that taking on rental of shop space will keep him focused on growing the business. "Besides I wanted to separate my business and personal life."

read more…

Guide to Government Grants and Loans

“Millions in free government money for your business.” – Fact or Fiction?

“The truth is that federal and state governments do not provide grants for starting and expanding small businesses. However, the U.S. government does offer a wide-variety of low-interest loans and venture capital financing programs to help entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. In addition, some federal and state agencies award a limited number of grants for very specialized business activities such as scientific research and development.”

At, you can find info on:

  • SBA (Small Business Association) Loans
  • SBA Loans for Veterans
  • USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) Rural Development Loans
  • State and Local Loan Programs

Check it out! Explore some other parts of the site for small business guides, government forms, and links to state and local info.

How Do I Get a Free Credit Report

One way you can prevent identity theft and credit fraud is to check your credit report periodically.

By law, each of the major three credit report agencies must provide you with a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months. These three agencies created to centralize the process.

You can access your credit report in one of three ways:

  • Online: The quickest way to access your free credit report go to You will access your credit report directly from the website.
  • Telephone: Call 1-877-322-8228 and follow the instructions.
  • Mail: Download the request form. Print it out and then fill it out. Mail the completed form to:
    Annual Credit Report Request Service
    P.O. Box 105281
    Atlanta, GA 30348-5281

Warning: According to the Louisiana Attorney General, only one website is authorized to fill orders for free credit reports: Other websites with similar sounding names, or slight mispellings, may have conditions attached to accessing the credit reports. Some may try to charge you, while others might be more malicious attempts to steal your personal information. Also, never respond to an email claiming to be from because it will never email you to ask for personal information.

Helpful hint: You can decide whether to get credit reports from all three credit agencies at the same time, or from one every four months. If you get them at the same time, you can compare the three, because different creditors report to different agencies. But then you must wait 12 months before accessing the reports again. If you space out the reports and get one from just one of the three agencies, then you can get one every four months.

If you would like to opt out of receiving pre-approved credit card offers, as well as insurance offers, you may go to or call 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688).

For additional credit services, such as placing a fraud alert on your credit report you may contact each of the three major credit reporting agencies directly:

  • Equifax:
    • For annual credit report: 1-800-685-1111
    • Place a fraud alert on your credit report: 1-888-766-0008
  • Experian:
    • For annual credit report and to report fraud: 1-888-397-3742
  • Transunion:
    • For annual credit report: 1-877-322-8228
    • To report fraud: 1-800-680-7289

Community Information Database

How can I find a math tutor for my sixth grader? Where can I receive a copy of my birth certificate? Whom can I call to join a local gardening club? Is there anyone available to speak to groups about journalism? Is there any place to recycle my old computer?

The East Baton Rouge Parish Public library fields these and similar questions all the time. In fact, to facilitate answers for these questions we have compiled the Community Information Database (CID), a continuously updated resource containing records for over 1,200 agencies, organizations, clubs, tutors, and speakers serving the East Baton Rouge Parish area.

The Community Information Database saves our staff and patrons time. Rather than fumbling through the blue pages or scanning endless governmental websites every time a community information question arises, the directory allows for instantaneous, directed searches by keyword, subject, and name.

How is that better than using an online search engine? First of all, unlike, say, a Google search, Community Information Database records have been vetted by staff and come directly from the horse’s mouth – the organizations themselves. Web searches can’t provide that kind of fidelity. Secondly, web searches return vast numbers – sometimes millions – of unrelated and misleading hits. The Community Information Database is small enough that you will not miss a listing on account of it being buried under irrelevant hits.

In addition to saving time and hassle for patrons and staff, the CID provides more information than you will ever find in the phone books. It collates information about an organization’s services (especially in regard to governmental agencies) that otherwise would not appear in the same place in compartmentalized web pages or phone directories.

Patrons may search the directory by selecting the “Community Information” link at our homepage located at

In addition to the online database, a print version of the Community Information Database called the Community Services Directory (CSD) is published every other year (we will publish the 2008 version at the end of this summer). The CSD contains records for 400-plus groups which provide public service to the East Baton Rouge Parish area. A copy is provided for every reference desk in the East Baton Rouge Parish Library System. Members of the public may purchase copies for $16 at the Main Library’s circulation desk.

If you have any questions about the CSD or the CID; would like to have your group included – or add yourself as a tutor; or wish to speak to a Librarian regarding the contents of the directories, please do not hesitate to give us a call at (225) 231-3750, or by email at

New Overdrive Media Console Available

The East Baton Rouge Parish Library just received the following press release from OverDrive Media:

OverDrive Media Console (OMC) v3.0, now available at your digital library website, offers many features that your patrons have been anticipating. You and all your users are invited to upgrade to the new OMC v3.0.

In response to the overwhelmingly positive feedback we received from our Transfer Wizard, we have added a Burn to CD Wizard. With OMC v3.0, patrons no longer need to launch Windows Media Player to burn to CD. Instead, in just a few clicks, patrons can burn WMA audio titles through OMC. Clicking the ‘Burn’ button launches the Burn Wizard, which guides the user through this simple and straightforward burn process. For your audiobook users who burn titles to CD, they will be excited to learn that the new Burn Wizard splits OverDrive’s Audiobook parts into tracks (based on the existing MediaMarkers), allowing users to more easily navigate content they have burned to CD.

As announced and covered in the press, OverDrive will introduce the new OverDrive MP3 Audiobook (compatible with iPods). OMC v3.0 supports the new MP3 format. When OverDrive MP3 Audiobooks are available (coming Summer 2008), Windows users who have already installed OMC v3.0 will be able to use titles in this format. Users of earlier versions will need to upgrade to OMC v3.0 to enjoy OverDrive MP3 Audiobooks. To learn more about OverDrive MP3 Audiobooks, read the press release and Library Journal’s coverage of the exciting news.

10 Reasons to Have the Library Information Service on Speed Dial

Here are ten reasons to have the Library Information Service’s phone number, (225) 231-3750, on your speed dial.

Get directions when you’re lost

You’re on the road and the address is on 12689 Florida Blvd, but where the heck is that? Call the library and find out it’s between Sherwood and Flannery.

Find a phone number

You can’t remember the name of that car stereo place near the corner of Airline and Cedarcrest, so you can’t call Directory Assistance. The library can go that extra step to help you puzzle it out and then to find the phone number.

Settle an argument

Your friend Steve says that Sammy Sosa hit 54 home runs in 2001 but you are sure it was 64! Call the library and learn it was 64. The next round is on Steve.

You just can’t remember who wrote “Trout Fishing in America” even though you read it (albeit 10 years ago). Call the library before you rub your head raw. The library tells you that it was Richard Brautigan.

Be a better shopper

At a car lot, you can call quickly for NADA quotes.

At an electronics store, you can call for Consumer Reports Best Buys selections.

Stock up your book queue

You’re listening to the radio or to your favorite podcast and you hear a review of a book. Call the library immediately and they will hold it for you. If it’s all checked out, you can get on the reserve list and then the library will call you when its ready for you to pick up.

Stock quotes

Where did Evergreen Solar close today? Is that up or down?

Did oil go up again?

Recipe consultation

What’s a good ratio of vinegar to oil for a classic vinaigrette?

You’ve got an 18 pound turkey. How long and at what temperature should you cook it?

What in the world is in Watergate Salad?

When a dictionary isn’t handy

You’ve already settled into your hammock with a good book, and with only an iced tea and a cell phone nearby, when you run into the word “adamantine”. Call for a quick definition (having the hardness or luster of a diamond).

How do you spell Mediterranean?

Out on the town

The movie you wanted to see is sold out. Call the library to see if any of the other movies is a New York Times Critic’s Choice.

Call to see when and where a movie is playing.

Call to find out if a restaurant received a good review in the paper.

Things to do

You’re stuck in Yuma for the next day and a half. Find out what there is to do in Yuma.

Business Person of the Month: Gabby Loubiere

Gabby Loubiere always dreamed of owning a small grill or bar where people would gather. But not wanting the hassle of serving alcohol or all the cooking involved with a grill, a coffee shop seemed ideal to her. The original plan was a 50/50 business arrangement with a friend, but "at the last moment the friend bailed." The Feltzers, who owned the shopping center then, really wanted a coffee shop there. They encouraged Loubiere to open up as sole owner. She feels this was the best thing that could have happened. When the store became vacant, her stepfather came in to oversee the remodeling. They pulled everything off the walls and started over. She likes being sole owner and having the freedom to make changes as she sees fit. She recently repainted the interior in only three days. "I honestly don't drink much coffee, no more than one or two a day; I was just born with a ton of energy."

The company description of Brew Ha-Ha! is Coffee, Teas and More. And yes, the punctuation is part of the official logo. They feature a large variety of coffees, teas and additives plus a lot of homemade sweets. "The desserts sell pretty quickly; my Double Chocolate Walnut Bars is the customers' favorite followed closely by my homemade Banana Pudding and Mississippi Mud Pie."
read more…

SCORE With Small Business Workshops – Summer 2008

SCORE, Service Core of Retired Executives, offers seminars and workshops on managing your small business. Chapter 141 of SCORE has nearly 40 years experience serving the business community in Baton Rouge and  surrounding parishes.

Starting And Managing Your Business, is a series of seminars offered by the Baton Rouge chapter of SCORE. Topics covered include "Introduction to the business plan, Business taxes, Legal aspects of your business, Technology for business, Advertising & Marketing, Insurance necessary for your business, Banking Requirements and Insurance required for your business." Looking for information on this series, click here or contact the Baton Rouge chapter of SCORE.

Baton Rouge SCORE Chapter 141
7117 Florida Blvd.
Baton Rouge, LA 70806

Hurricane Hotline

Hurricane season is upon us again — and everyone in the Parish knows that the best place to track conditions and stay abreast of developments is the Library’s Hurricane Hotline.

Hurricane Hotline has links to the lastest forecasts and up-to-the-minute information on hurricane activity in the Atlantic and Caribbean. The site also contains hurricane preparation lists, evacuation route information, links to books and videos in our catalog, and much more.

And for those grumpy hours in the car trying to get out of harm’s way — there are hurricane games and extreme weather trivia quizzes!

But seriously, Hurricane Hotline is an invaluable resource that consolidates important storm information produced by an uncountable number of agencies. You’ll find the local resources you need when a hurricane’s coming, and you’ll find the state and national resources you need if disaster strikes.

So be prepared for hurricane season 2008 (June 1 – Nov. 30). Visit Hurricane Hotline and make it your hurricane season home page.

Looking for Environmental Records?

The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) provides free online access to their collection of scanned public documents through their Electronic Document Management System (EDMS). Records available date back to 2000 and include permits for businesses, general correspondence, reports, assessments and citations issued.

Creating an account is simple and there is a helpful tutorial to assist with your search. After logging in, you can search for records by company name, date, type of document and even by the property address. You may view, download, email and print documents. In the future, LDEQ plans to extend the date range of the available documents.

For more information, contact the LDEQ Customer Service Center at 225-219-5337 or toll free at 866-896-5337.

To access the EDMS please go to: