State-led program to offer help for small businesses impacted by COVID-19

MONROE, La. (KNOE) - Some much needed relief is coming for small businesses around the state in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Some much needed relief is coming for small businesses around the state in response to the coronavirus pandemic. (Source: KNOE)

On Wednesday, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced a new Louisiana Loan Portfolio Guaranty Program, which will offer loans of up to $100,000 to Louisiana small businesses of fewer than 100 employees that are impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

To help Main Street and rural businesses sustain operations, the loans will require no payments for 180 days and carry below-market interest rates of no more than 3.5 percent. A total loan pool of $50 million will be quickly disbursed to eligible small businesses.

“We want to do everything we can to protect small businesses in Louisiana,” said Gov. Edwards.

Before the governor’s announcement, one business told us they had to no idea how they would be able to still pay bills and keep their doors open.

“If this was to end now, both of us would lose our homes. We would not have a place to live,” said Kevin ‘Kevo’ Meredith, co-owner of 2Dudes Brew & Que. “I don’t get scared, and this has scared me to a level I’ve never experienced ever.”

“We shut the restaurant down less than a week ago and it’s already to the point where we’re ‘ok we need our support to come through,’ and that’s not the kind of people we are. We’re the support providers, not the support receivers,” said Chris Brown, co-owner of 2Dudes Brew & Que.

LPGP loans will provide immediate financing to help small firms, such as 2Dudes, impacted by COVID-19 meet their payroll, retain employees, and pay their rent and mortgages.

“The beauty of this program is we are not competing with the essential financial products offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration — we are complementing SBA," said LED Secretary Don Pierson. “We think it’s a win-win-win. It’s a win for the consumer that gets a 3.5% loan fixed rate for up to 5 years, it’s lowering the risk profile for the bank and accelerating their ability to deploy funding to our small businesses."

A much needed assist at the buzzer.

“The hospitality industry in itself is in turmoil right now. So anything we can leverage from an assistance perspective to keep those people able to provide for their families, we’re going to do everything we can possibly do,” said Brown.

“That’s what you expect out of elected officials. This is what we expect. This is important. This is the difference in this ending, or us looking back at this and not having the chance to turn this over to my grandchildren and his children one day,” said Meredith.

If you’re a small business owner impacted by COVID-19 and in need of immediate working capital, visit OpportunityLouisiana.com.