As the COVID-19 crisis drags on, businesses in Louisiana are struggling to stay open or reopen.
The federal government has injected $350 billion into local banks to be lent out to small business owners in the form of SBA loans and Paycheck Protection Programs.
President and CEO of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, Stephen Waguespack says the federal government has ‘tools in the toolbox’ to help small business owners.
“P.P.P. is the one that can be converted into a grant. So if you use that money for payroll, mortgage, utilities, or rent -- that turns into a grant the small business does not have to pay back,” said Waguespack. “The E.I.D.L or Disaster Loan from the SBA does not have that same quality. You still use it for the similar expenses but it doesn’t convert to a grant you actually have to pay that back.”
Waguespack says last week was a rough start for local banks disbursing the loans to business owners because he says there was little guidance for banks from the federal government.
“And the banks said, ‘whoa hang on we’ve never done this before we don’t know how to monitor payroll what proof do you need on a mortgage, rent, and utilities, what are we asking for,’ and that was the confusion last week,” said Waguespack. “And so the Treasury went back and defined their ‘regs’ a little bit more. So now what the banks are telling us is ‘look it’s still new, we are still trying to figure out this new process but now we have more guidance from the SBA and Treasury,' so now, the local lenders pretty much use that templet to decide how much you qualify for and more importantly how much of your expenses can be converted to a grant.”
Mayor LaToya Cantrell's office says in an email, "Small businesses are encouraged to reach out to the LSBDC for technical assistance and help to determine which program may be the best fit. It is possible to apply to both programs as long as funding is used for different purposes. Additionally, it is possible to apply to both programs and determine before signing final loan documents which one is a better fit. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 504-831-3730to be connected directly with a consultant for assistance."
Here is a list of approved SBA lenders in the New Orleans area:
Biz Capital BIDCO, 909 Poydras St., Suite 2230,(504) 832-1993
Business Resource Capital, 3801 Canal St., Suite 320, (504) 524-6172
Fidelity Homestead Bank, 201 St. Charles Ave., (985) 871-4202
First Bank & Trust, 909 Poydras St.,(985) 249-6761
Gulf Coast Bank & Trust, 200 St. Charles Ave., (504) 561-6100
Hope Credit Union, 1726 O.C. Haley Blvd., (504) 527-0688
Liberty Bank, 6600 Plaza Drive, Suite 600, (504) 240-5107
Regions Bank, 1920 St. Charles Ave., (504) 544-6017
Regional Loan Corp., 3810 Canal St., Suite 320, (504) 524-6172
Whitney Bank, 228 St. Charles Ave., (504) 846-2577