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Louisiana Resources for Business and Economic Relief

May 6, 2020 • Covid-19 Resources • Written by Amy Lee

This article was updated on June 25, 2020.

 

What is Louisiana Doing to Help?

The state government has enacted several measures aimed at decreasing the economic impact of coronavirus on both businesses and individuals. 

Business Assistance

Louisiana Economic Development has partnered with the Louisiana Bankers Association and Louisiana Facilities Authority to provide interest free loans to small businesses across the state. 

The Louisiana Loan Portfolio Guaranty Program aims to provide relief to businesses directly affected by the pandemic through loans issued by traditional banks and credit unions.

  • Up to $100,000 in interest free loans to businesses that employ less than 100 people
  • Repayment of loans is due within 5 years, but terms vary depending on whether your business is required to remain open during the pandemic

To see whether your local small business is eligible for this benefit, reference the Loan Guarantee Program website for further details. 

Additionally, the Resilient Louisiana Commission is offering guidance and assistance to small businesses on how to navigate through these troubling times. More information is available here

Individual Assistance

Residents of Louisiana are also eligible to receive various forms of assistance provided by the state in response to the pandemic. 

  • Homeowner Assistance – Louisiana is providing mortgage payment delay assistance through the Federal Housing Finance Association for individuals whose mortgage is owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
  • Renters Assistance – The state is assisting low-income individuals with rent payment disputes through Southeast Louisiana Legal Services.
  • Food Banks – Louisiana has expanded its investment into local food banks. Find your local food bank here.
  • Medicaid Expansion – recently unemployed workers can now apply for Medicaid online.

Additionally, the state is actively increasing its unemployment insurance coverage—in line with federal government provisions—to accommodate the high number of individuals who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19. 

The maximum benefit offered by the state is $247 a week, but the federal government is providing enhanced assistance ($600 a week) through the CARES Act (see below). 

To apply for unemployment insurance coverage, visit Louisiana Works

 

What Type of Programs are Being Offered by the Federal Government? 

Louisiana residents can also benefit from several programs offered by the federal government aimed at reducing the economic impact of COVID-19 on individuals and local businesses. 

These programs have been provided by the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act, signed into law on March 27, 2020. 

Direct Assistance for Small Businesses

Small businesses in Louisiana can access two forms of economic assistance through the CARES Act:

  1. Economic Injury Disaster Loans – Provides businesses with less than 500 employees $10,000 loans, which do not need to be paid back.
  2. Small Business Paycheck Protection Program – Offers paycheck and benefits assistance for eligible small businesses across the country for up to 24 weeks.

Applications to both programs are currently being processed through the Small Business Administration. Louisiana has confirmed that small businesses in all 64 of the state’s parishes will be eligible for these benefits. 

Pandemic Unemployment Insurance

Louisiana residents can also access expanded unemployment insurance. Typically, small business owners, independent contractors, and the self-employed are not eligible to receive unemployment insurance benefits from the state government. 

However, the CARES Act is extending coverage to these groups due to the direct effect the coronavirus has had on the ability of local businesses to operate. 

While most states have been slow to roll out the assistance package, Louisiana became the second state to initiate payments to residents on April 13th. 

Residents can receive:

  • An additional $600 weekly payment in addition to state-funded unemployment insurance ($247 a week)
  • For a maximum of 13 weeks during the period of April 4th to July 25th

While the enhancements to unemployment created by the CARE Act are expected to expire at the end of July, regular unemployment benefits should be available as usual.

Pandemic Unemployment Insurance covers a wide range of individuals in Louisiana. Start your application here

Stimulus Payments

Most notably, the CARES Act is providing stimulus checks to individuals across the country, regardless of how they have been affected by the pandemic. 

You can check whether you qualify for a stimulus check and when you can expect to receive your payment on the IRS website

 

COVID-19 in Louisiana

Like every state in the US, Louisiana has experienced heightened disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Stay-at-home orders went into effect on March 22nd due to a significant number of cases appearing across the state. On May 15th, Louisiana began Phase One of its reopening. On June 12, it began Phase Two, which will last at least 21 days.

Local businesses have experienced enhanced hardship due to the pandemic, with all non-essential businesses closing while stay-at-home orders were in place. Even as the state begins to reopen, businesses must operate at limited capacity to keep residents safe.

 

How Has COVID-19 Affected Louisiana?

All 64 parishes in Louisiana have experienced COVID-19 cases. The Louisiana Department of Health is providing constant updates on case numbers, deaths, ventilator usage, testing, demographic data, and prevention measures through its website. 

The highest concentration of cases has been found in parishes that are densely populated, with each of the following experiencing more than 1,000 cases:

  1. New Orleans 
  2. Jefferson 
  3. East Baton Rouge
  4. Caddo
  5. St. Tammany 

The New York Times is providing real-time updates on cases by parish in Louisiana. 

Louisiana Testing Protocol

Coronavirus testing is currently available in Louisiana if you suffer from related symptoms. Residents can access testing through three different options:

  1. Primary care physicians that have access to tests (call your doctor to check)
  2. COVID-19 public testing sites (reference this spreadsheet for locations and testing protocols)
  3. Federal testing centers in Louisiana (find one near you)

Recommended Safety Measures 

Louisiana is recommending various measures to protect residents from COVID-19:

  • Wearing protective coverings on face
  • High-risk individuals and their families are advised to stay at home until further notice

Thus far, business closures have had a detrimental impact on the economy. Louisiana has experienced the highest level of unemployment insurance applications in its history, leading to uncertainty about how it will emerge from the crisis. 

Reopening Businesses in Louisiana

In Phase One of Louisiana’s plan, the following businesses and facilities reopened at 25% capacity:

  • Restaurants
  • Cafes
  • Gyms and fitness centers
  • Barbers and personal services (salons, nail studios, spas)
  • Movie theaters
  • Bars

In Phase Two, the following businesses can reopen at 25% capacity:

  • Bars
  • Concert venues
  • Arcades
  • Amusement parks
Larger capacity venues must apply to the state Fire Marshal and Department of Health.
In addition, Phase One businesses can operate at 50% capacity.

The Louisiana Open Safely website guides businesses through the steps they should take to safely reopen. General guidelines include:

  • Maintaining social distancing
  • Screening staff and customers for symptoms
  • Washing hands
  • Providing staff with gloves
  • Encouraging masks
  • Cleaning and sanitizing regularly

Additionally, be sure to look for local county regulations that apply to your business. Some local ordinances supersede those of the state and federal government.

 

Nextdoor: The Neighborhood Hub

For more news on how COVID-19 is affecting specific Louisiana neighborhoods, check out Nextdoor, the neighborhood hub. 

Here, you can access local pandemic-related neighborhood news, including discussion boards, recommendations, and updates. Additionally, by creating a free Business Page, you can join the conversation with your community, promote your products and services, and see how other companies are responding to the pandemic. 

With Nextdoor, get all the information you need to stay safe in your community, and learn how to support local businesses during this difficult time.

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Additional sources:

Federal Finance Housing Agency. COVID-19 INFORMATION AND RESOURCES. https://www.fhfa.gov/Homeownersbuyer/MortgageAssistance/Pages/Coronavirus-Assistance-Information.aspx

Feeding Louisiana. Statewide Member Food Banks. https://www.feedinglouisiana.org/get-help

Internal Revenue Service. Economic impact payments: What you need to know. https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/economic-impact-payments-what-you-need-to-know

Louisiana Department of Health. COVID-19 Testing Sites. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/18vys3Y5Owxbxnd5Sw0yB2r4LcfOxH1ERWBayI2ZwlMU/edit#gid=80312056

Louisiana Department of Health. Self-Service. https://sspweb.lameds.ldh.la.gov/selfservice/

Louisiana Economic Development. Resilient Louisiana Commission. https://www.opportunitylouisiana.com/resilientlouisiana

Louisiana Economic Development. Small Business Loan Guarantee Program. https://www.ledbizloan.com/

Louisiana Office of the Governor. COVID-19 Resources. https://gov.louisiana.gov/index.cfm/page/92

Louisiana Primary Care Association. Health Centers. https://www.lpca.net/main/for-patients/find-a-health-center

Louisiana Workforce Commission. News and Announcements. https://www.louisianaworks.net/hire/vosnet/Default.aspx

New York Times. Louisiana Coronavirus Cases and Map. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/louisiana-coronavirus-cases.html

NPR. How Louisiana is Handling Record Unemployment Claims. https://www.npr.org/2020/04/09/831174832/how-louisiana-is-handling-record-unemployment-claims

Small Business Administration. Coronavirus (COVID-19): Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources. https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources

Southeast Louisiana Legal Services. Home. https://slls.org/

Office of the Governor of Louisiana. Gov. Edwards Signs Order Moving Louisiana to Phase One. https://gov.louisiana.gov/news/PhaseOne

Office of the Governor of Louisiana. Gov. Edwards Signs Order Moving Louisiana to Phase One. https://gov.louisiana.gov/news/PhaseOne

USA Today. Extra $600 in weekly unemployment benefits runs out next month. https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2020/06/17/cares-act-unemployment-what-happens-when-600-weekly-benefits-ends/3194716001/

 


If you are a local business, claim your free Business Page to get started on Nextdoor. Resources on how to use Nextdoor to stay connected with your local customers during coronavirus, pertinent news affecting businesses, and more, are available in our Small Business Guide for Coronavirus Relief.

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