BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Small businesses hit by the COVID-19 pandemic will qualify for $15,000 grants this summer, as Louisiana’s treasury prepares to distribute $260 million in federal funds.
The state will start taking applications for grants July 28, Treasurer John Schroder announced Wednesday.
State lawmakers crafted the program in their spring legislative session. Their guidelines only permit grants to Louisiana-based businesses that employed no more than 50 workers on March 1. For the program’s first 21 days, grants will strictly be open to businesses that have not yet received federal coronavirus-related aid elsewhere.
“You invest your blood, sweat and tears into your business,” Schroder said Wednesday. “You shouldn’t have to see your life investment collapse overnight.”
Legislators also moved to reserve $40 million for minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses.
“Now they are able to recoup some of those dollars, put those funds back into their business, and hopefully sustain their business operation while we’re moving through this COVID time,” said Kelisha Garrett, executive director of the New Orleans Regional Black Chamber of Commerce.
Schroder’s office has outsourced certain services to private contractors. Accounting firm Postlethwaite and Netterville will handle grant applications and customer service. MLCworks will oversee marketing.
The treasurer expect 450,000 small businesses will qualify but says grants will go out on a first come, first serve basis — even if high demand means the money runs out quickly.
“It could last 30 days, 60 days, 90 days or two weeks,” Schroder said. “Our job is to do a good job, get the program up and running, and it lasts as long as it lasts.”