Louisiana small businesses at risk, await federal assistance extension

Banks, businesses work through rollout blunders
Banks, businesses work through rollout blunders(Source: WAFF)
Updated: Apr. 20, 2020 at 4:53 AM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Federal lawmakers say they’re closer towards a deal to extend assistance for small businesses affected by COVID-19. It comes as recent data reveal more than 30 percent of Louisiana’s small business owners are at risk of closing their doors in the next 90 days.

“I do think there are going to be some businesses that are not going to make it out of this,” small business owner Jarret Miller said.

A new report from Main Street America, a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, indicates 81-percent of Louisiana small business owners surveyed suspended storefront operations, and more than half them don’t have online sales.

"A lot of people are worried about what the future is going to hold for their small business," Miller said.

While working to connect these employers with each other and resources since the shutdown, the independent contractor and part-time, online marketer found some are worried they won't have the funds to reopen.

“You’re still paying your insurances, you’re still paying Workmen’s Comp., you’re still paying all these things. So, there are a lot of different things that go into keep being your business current so that you can actually work when the work comes back,” Miller explained.

State and federal leaders have discussed soon reopening the economy, but it won't begin for, at least, a few more weeks.

Until then, money won’t come easily.

“I was pretty much counting on that Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). I was in the application process for that and now they’re out of funding,” small business owner Jason Tucker said.

Employers like Tucker saw government programs shore up, Thursday, without an extension from Congress.

“They will have more money as soon as we come to agreement, which will be soon, and I think people will be very pleased because these small businesses must thrive in a community where their, again, health is essential to them opening up, and they have to open up in order to thrive,” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D) explained.

President Trump was insistent, Sunday, he wanted to provide assistance to small businesses and says negotiations with Democrats are ongoing.

“We are very close to a deal. I can’t tell you whether not we’re going to get the deal or not. Do you want me to say that we’re gonna have a deal before we have a deal? We have a good chance of getting a deal,” the President said.

Already, the feds have fronted $350 billion to small businesses.

“The PPP is a very good program for a retaining employees and keeping your lights on but because you have to spend the funds to make them refundable, it actually doesn’t do a lot in terms of preserving cash,” Greater New Orleans, Inc. President & CEO Michael Hecht explained. “Consider the balance between the forgivable loan and just keeping cash on hand. It might be, because the comeback is going to be gradual, that having cash on hand may start being more important.”

Hecht says some struggling, small businesses may also want to think about other resources, like a long-term Economic Injury Disaster Loan or employee retention tax credits. He also believes the Payment Protection Program will be replenished, estimating closer to a trillion total spent.

Neither the House nor the Senate is expected back in Washington until May 4. To pass legislation without all lawmakers present, they’ll need to have unanimous consent where every member agrees.

For more information regarding resources for small businesses in Louisiana, see GNO, Inc.'s comparison chart.

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