Thursday, April 19, 2007

Business Recovery Grants

from Bayou Buzz dot com

More than 2,000 checks have been distributed so far to recipients of the Business Recovery Grant & Loan Program created by the Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA) in partnership with and administered by Louisiana Economic Development (LED). Award letters were mailed to more than 3,400 grant recipients in early April. Many have already returned their signed Terms & Conditions documents and are receiving the first 50 percent of their grants. The program will grant more than $63 million in this first round, with an average award amount of $18,100.

Of businesses receiving grants in this first round,
- More than 85 percent have 10 or fewer employees
- 85 percent were located in the most devastated parishes: Cameron, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard
- 53 percent were woman- or minority-owned firms

Community-based financial institutions played a major role in helping to spread the word and walk participants through program requirements. LED staff and these local partners hosted more than 25 workshops across South Louisiana to educate business owners about eligibility rules and the application process.

Once the business owner has submitted original receipts, invoices marked "paid," or other evidence of payment for usage of the first 50 percent of the grant, the second half will be released. Recipients can download the reimbursement form to request the second haf of funding. Grant recipients may use the funds for operating expenses and inventory from the date of their award letter forward. Current debt incurred for past business expenses may also be paid down with the grant.

LED and its community-based partners will begin distribution of the first round of loans in the coming weeks.

Those applicants who were not eligible for grants in this round (e.g. because they did not meet revenue decline requirements) will be automatically considered in the next round. LED expects to begin the second round of funding this summer following a series of meetings with business groups, elected officials and other stakeholders to help design the program.

Applicants who wish to appeal the grant decision can submit the electronic appeal form available on LED's website, LouisianaForward.com.

For Round 2 of the Business Recovery Grant & Loan Program, the State is in the process of reallocating $68 million, plus funds remaining from Round 1. The allocation between grants and loans will be determined during the program design phase following meetings with small business representatives across the state.