Gov. Edwards signs bill making grants available to aid small businesses affected by COVID-19

Gov. Edwards signs bill making grants available to aid small businesses affected by COVID-19
Louisiana State Capitol (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WVUE) - Monday, Governor John Bel Edwards signed a bill aimed at helping small businesses recover from the COVID-19 outbreak despite Mayor Latoya Cantrell’s calls to veto the bill.

The Republican-crafted bill will allow for $300 million in federal aid to begin a grant program.

The money comes from the $1.8 billion CARES Act package that was sent to Louisiana. About $811 million was originally going to be disbursed to local government agencies to reimburse them for coronavirus related expenses.

During the legislatives session, state lawmakers chose the carve out $300 million for small business grants and use the remaining $511 million to reimburse local governments.

Cantrell asked Edwards to veto the bill. Her office released a statement saying it is frustrating to have to fight for the funds the city needs.

The City of New Orleans, that was hit hard by the COVID-19 virus, has lost several events that generated tax revenue for the city. Major festivals such as the Jazz and Heritage Festival, Essence Festival and Voodoo Festival have all canceled their 2020 events.

To ease concerns, lawmakers say they are working to push a separate bill to add an additional $54 million in federal coronavirus aid to help reimburse local governments.

Eligible businesses have to be located in Louisiana and can not have more than 50 full-time employees as of March 1. They can not be a subsidiary of or owned by a larger company with more than 50 full-time employees. Businesses also have to show an interruption in business due to the virus.

Of the $300 million, $40 million will be allocated to assist minority-owned, women-owned and veteran-owned business.

The business grants will be capped at $15,000 each.

For the first 21 days, grants will only be available for businesses that did not receive any other federal aid through the Paycheck Protection Program or through the U.S. Small Business Administration disaster loan and did not receive business interruption insurance money.

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