In less than one day, more than 10,000 businesses applied for a new assistance program, according to State Treasurer John Schroder.
The Louisiana Main Street Business Assistance Program, a $275 million grant program for Louisiana small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, launched Tuesday.
Schroder revealed the staggering numbers during a Main Street Recovery Webinar hosted in conjunction with the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce Tuesday, July 28.
In addition to the 10,000 applicants, the website already had 40,000 visitors and 14,000 signups for email updates by Tuesday afternoon.
Act 311 of the Louisiana 2020 Regular Session set aside $275 million from the CARES Act for the Louisiana Main Street Recovery Program. The program is designed to reimburse small businesses for pandemic-related expenses through grants.
“Our small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and they’re hurting because of the financial impact of COVID-19. I encourage every small business owner to visit our website, take the eligibility quiz and apply if they meet the requirements,” Schroder said in a press release earlier this week. “We don’t want our businesses to close. We want them to thrive.”
Main Street offers two grant options:
QuickRelief — an abbreviated application process and reduced documentation requirements, and will give grants of up to $5,000 to qualifying businesses who received $1,000 or less in federal funding or other assistance.
Cost Reimbursement — grants of up to $15,000 to qualifying businesses who can show eligible expenses related to the pandemic.
Schroder said most businesses would qualify for the grants. He joked that the only business he didn’t know that was affected by the pandemic was the, “big grocery store by my house.”
He encouraged applicants to note all their expenses, adding that any legitimate expense a business can prove would be eligible.
“If you have $50,000 in expenses? Put it on there, let the accountants sort out,” Schroder said. “The worst thing that could happen would be you only seek the limit of $15,000 and a couple things don’t qualify, so you get a check for $10,000 when you had another $10,000 to $20,000 in expenses.”
He noted that some of those expenses would be anything bought to change a business method, personal protection materials, vehicle costs from increased delivery demand, rent up to five months, and payroll would all qualify.
The first 21 days of the grant program are set aside for businesses that have received no aid of any kind. Once the grant reaches day 22, all the claims are placed in the same pot for funding.
Schroder estimated that half of those 10,000 applicants have already received some form of assistance from SBA programs like PPP.
In addition, he noted the state legislature put aside $40M for minority-, women-, and veteran-owned businesses for a 60-day period. Of the 10,000 applicants on Tuesday, 1,100 are minority/veteran owned.
“The ladies are rocking it,” Schroder exclaimed. “Of that 1,100, 850 are female-owned. It’s a good thing the legislature did this to recognize the struggles faced by these businesses.”
Schroder said the biggest aspect that applicants need to prepare for is erring on “the side of too much instead of not enough.”
“Be sure to have all your invoices on hand and scan all of them into your computer as separate files. Don’t throw it all in one PDF, separate and store them,” he explained.
The program runs through the first week of November, although Schroder said he doesn’t believe the money is going to last that long.
“The applications are going to far exceed what money we have,” he warned.
Applications for grants through the Main Street Recovery Program can be completed online at www.louisianamainstreet.com.