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Pulling together when faced with challenges is nothing new to Louisianans. We know it’s imperative that we share knowledge and resources to help everyone get through these uncertain times. It’s why we created this hub of resources for businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, including information on the benefits made available through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
We’ve weathered many storms, and together, we’ll weather this one too.
Business Assistance Resources
Provisions in the CARES Act include the Paycheck Protection Program, economic injury disaster loans and small business debt relief for existing Small Business Administration (SBA) loans. A summary of these programs is available through Congress’ The Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act and an FAQ regarding the Payment Protection program can be found here. The Paycheck Protection Program is open through Aug. 8. For those not participating in the Paycheck Protection Program, the Employee Retention Tax Credit offers a 50% tax credit for the first $10,000 of compensation, including health care benefits, for each employee of a business. For additional information, including details on who qualifies, click here.
In addition, the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 was recently approved, providing more flexibility to businesses participating in the program by offering small businesses and other loan recipients additional time to spend funds and still qualify for loan forgiveness. For additional details on the Act, click here. Also, the SBA recently announced that it would begin accepting new economic injury disaster loans and economic injury disaster loans advance applications from qualified small business and agricultural businesses.
America’s Small Business Development Center created a new spreadsheet that compares SBA programs, including the economic injury disaster loans and the Paycheck Protection Program. Click here to access that spreadsheet. The latest report from the U.S. SBA shows that approximately $510 billion of the $660 billion has been allocated, including over $7 billion to Louisiana.
The State of Louisiana, in partnership with Louisiana Economic Development (LED), created the Louisiana Loan Portfolio Guaranty Program, which will offer loans of up to $100,000 to Louisiana small businesses of fewer than 100 employees that are impacted by the pandemic. Loan details can be found here including FAQ’s and a list of participating banks.
In north Louisiana, Mayor Jamie Mayo recently announced the launch of City of Monroe COVID-19 Small Business Enterprise Loan/Grant Program, designed to stimulate economic growth and help businesses that have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. To learn more about the program and how to apply for assistance, click here.
Louisiana entered phase two of reopening the economy June 5. Phase two is expected to last a minimum of 21 days before moving into phase three. To learn more on phase two, click here.
To help businesses and other organizations reopen, the Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s Office activated OpenSafely.la.gov, a website where business owners and others can register to receive information and guidance on when businesses can reopen, the steps that must be taken to reopen and sanitation requirements, to list a few.
Gov. John Bel Edwards recently announced the creation of Resilient Louisiana Commission, a group tasked with examining the state’s economy amid the pandemic and making recommendations for more resilient business-related activities and future commerce in light of COVID-19.
Also, the Louisiana Economic Recovery Task Force, consisting of representatives from various business sectors, was established to jump-start the state’s economy in the short-term and support recovery as well as economic resurgence over the long-term. Click here to view the task force’s first full report.
LED partnered with e-commerce platforms to launch LASmallBizOnline.com, a website that provides Louisiana small business owners with enhanced customer service and other resources to assist in setting up e-commerce capabilities.
The Federal Reserve Board announced that it is establishing a Main Street Lending Program, which is designed to provide small businesses with loans from banks at below-market interest rates, would be expanded by lowering the minimum loan size, increasing the term of each loan option and extending the repayment period for all loans. The Louisiana Main Street Recovery page can be found here. And for more information on the program, visit:
Additional national and local resources include:
- Paycheck Protection Program Resources
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Save Small Business Fund
- U.S. Small Business Administration
- U.S. Small Business Administration find eligible lenders search tool
- U.S. Department of the Treasury The CARES Act Recent Remarks and Statements List
- IRS Frequently Asked Questions on Payroll Tax Deferment Under CARES Act
- Internal Revenue Service Payroll Tax Deferment FAQ
- Society for Human Resource Management
- Rural Business Development Grants
- Facebook Small Business Grants Program
- Office of the Governor and the COVID-19 Help Desk
- Louisiana Economic Development
- Louisiana Workforce Commission
- Louisiana Small Business Development Center
- Louisiana Association of Business and Industry
- Louisiana Department of Education Child Care Assistance Program
- Louisiana Major Disaster Declaration
- Louisiana Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to COVID-19
- Louisiana Governor’s Essential Infrastructure Fact Sheet
If you’re applying for financial assistance, you will be asked to provide a copy of your most recent utility bill. You can obtain a copy of your recent bill by logging into myEntergy. If you don’t have an account, click here to register (Entergy account number needed). If you have trouble registering, need your account number or need additional assistance, call 1-800-ENTERGY and an agent will help assist you with the registration process or obtain a mailed copy of your bill.
Employers and employees may also be interested to know that the U.S. Department of Labor recently provided additional guidance regarding paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave benefits under the Families First Coronavirus Act. And as it relates to filing income taxes, both the federal and state governments have extended the filing deadline to July 15. Louisiana, in particular, has extended sales tax filing to May 20.
Although there is a lot of helpful information and resources available, remain aware and don’t fall victim to scams. In this graphic, the U.S. Office of Inspector General provides several tips on avoiding grant fraud, loan fraud or phishing.
Entergy Louisiana recently hosted a webinar where community leaders and experts offered insight and information to small businesses navigating newly created assistance programs.
The webinar was moderated by Jody Montelaro, Entergy Louisiana vice president of public affairs, and featured U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, Louisiana Association of Business and Industry President and CEO Stephen Waguespack, Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson and Louisiana Bankers Association Chairman Gary Littlefield. View the webinar below.
Regional Groups Getting Creative
As they always do, our regional economic development allies have risen to the challenge and have gotten creative to reach small businesses in need. For example, several have either hosted or scheduled webinars that include accountants and tax experts sharing tips and tools on navigating through the pandemic. Here are some existing or scheduled webinars that may be of interest to you:
- Greater New Orleans, Inc.’s (GNO, Inc.) describes the Paycheck Protection Program and list of upcoming webinars
- One Acadiana Webinar page
- Baton Rouge Area Chamber’s (BRAC) database of scheduled webinars
The Lake Charles Small Business Stabilization Fund was recently announced and designed to assist local, small businesses negatively affected by the pandemic.
And for reference, the following regional organizations are among those supporting economic development efforts across the state, with some providing resources for small businesses during the pandemic.
Click on your region in the map or list below to learn more about the resources in your specific area:
Map provided courtesy of Louisiana Economic Development.
- Acadiana Region – One Acadiana
- Bayou Region – South Louisiana Economic Council
- Capital Region – Baton Rouge Area Chamber
- Central Region – Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance
- Northeast Region – Northeast Louisiana Economic Alliance
- Northwest Region – North Louisiana Economic Partnership
- Southeast Region – Greater New Orleans, Inc.
- Southwest Region – Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance