COVID-19 Business Resources

BRAC is regularly updating this page with relevant resources and information for businesses.  To help support BRAC’s recovery initiatives, consider making a tax-deductible donation here.

Upcoming Business Webinars

Webinars related to business issues around COVID-19 and other community programming can be found on BRAC’s events page.

To view recordings of past webinars, visit BRAC’s Vimeo page.

Business Resources

Employer Resources
Safe at Work – Reopening Louisiana’s Economy

The COVID Defense app was launched by the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) to allow users who opt in to receive notifications if there is a risk they were exposed to someone who has tested positive for the virus. BRAC encourages employers to share this information with their employees.

COVID Defense can be downloaded in the iPhone App Store or Android Google Play Store. Use of the technology is completely voluntary, private, and secure. COVID Defense does not collect the location of a phone or individual to detect exposure, and it does not share a user's identity. App users must opt in to use the tool and may opt out at any time. No personal information is required to use the app.

On Wednesday, April 28, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that some mitigation measures will be eased and the statewide mask mandate will be lifted. Masking policies in Louisiana will be set by local leaders and business owners. Under the Governor’s new public health order, masks will still be required on public transit and in state government buildings, K-12 schools, early childhood education centers, colleges and universities, and healthcare facilities. 

Visit the state's COVID update page here for additional resources. 

BRAC has assembled an interactive map of known test sites in the nine-parish region. Clicking on the individual sites reveals details including contact information and whether walk-ins are allowed or a doctor’s note is needed. As more testing sites open and are identified, the map will be updated. Click here to access the map.

BRAC and Lyons Specialty Co. LLC have partnered to source a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Marketplace for the Capital Region’s business community. Click here to learn more. 

 

Business Aid Programs

BRAC published a comprehensive guide to the small business provisions of new federal legislation passed in the wake of COVID-19. Topics include loan programs established by the CARES Act and new guidelines set forth by the Families First Act, all with a focus on small business recovery. Intended as a one-stop resource for businesses, the guide will be updated as new information becomes available. View or download the guide here, last updated on March 19.

Additionally, BRAC produced a loan comparison chart to help businesses quickly understand the loan options available to them. It includes information on federal and state aid, broken into categories such as eligibility, loan uses and terms, application information, and more.

In March, Congress passed the sweeping American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion package that provides new and extended economic relief to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Key pieces of the American Rescue Plan for businesses include:
  • An extension of the CARES Act’s $300-per-week federal unemployment benefits until September 6 (formerly set to expire March 14).  
  • $10 billion to restart the Small Business Credit Initiative, which provides funding to states for programs that lend to or invest in small businesses.  
  • $7.3 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program and provisions to expand eligibility.  
  • $15 billion for the Targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.  
  • $25 billion for aid to restaurants and other food and drinking establishments.  
  • $1.3 billion for the SBA Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program.  
Read BRAC’s analysis of the legislative package for more information on what is in the bill here.

The American Rescue Plan funded a new program through the Small Business Administration (SBA) called the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), which provides funding to eligible businesses to keep their doors open. BRAC hosted a webinar with Michael Ricks, district director of the Louisiana district office of the SBA as he provided details on the RRF, how eligible businesses can prepare to apply, and the timeline for the application process. Click here to view the webinar, and here for Ricks's presentation.

Congress passed the Emergency Coronavirus Relief Act (ECRA) of 2020 in December, which allocates nearly $900 billion for small business assistance; unemployment assistance; individual income assistance; and education, housing, and student loan assistance. Read BRAC's analysis of the legislation here.

Loans made under the SBA Paycheck Protection Program are made by banks, Community Development Financial Institutions(CDFIs), Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs), Certified Development Companies (CDCs), Microloan Intermediaries, and other private lenders. This list includes BRAC investor lenders and is not exhaustive. Contact your preferred lender directly.

SBA's Lender Match (the matching process may take two days):  https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/lender-match

CFDIs in Louisiana:  https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/lender-match

Banks and Credit Unions in the Capital Region
Loans made under the SBA Paycheck Protection Program (part of the CARES Act) are made by banks, Credit Unions, and other private lenders. This list includes BRAC investor lenders and is not exhaustive. Contact your preferred lender directly.

The SBA is adding lenders daily here: https://www.sba.gov/paycheckprotection/find 

Anthem Bank & Trust
Multiple Locations

Bank of St. Francisville
(225) 635-6397

B1 Bank
Multiple Locations

Campus Federal Credit Union
Multiple Locations

Capital One
Multiple Locations

Chase Bank
Multiple Locations

Citizens Bank & Trust Co.
Multiple Locations

Cottonport Bank
6500 Corporate Blvd.
225-231-6606

EFCU  (partnered with Kabbage)
Multiple Locations

Guaranty Bank & Trust Co.
Multiple Locations

Gulf Coast Bank & Trust
Multiple Locations

HomeBank
Multiple Locations

IberiaBank
Multiple Locations

Investar Bank
Multiple Locations

LA Capitol FCU
Multiple Locations

LiftFund
(888) 215-2373

Neighbors FCU
Multiple Locations

Pelican State CU
Multiple Locations

Peoples Bank & Trust of Pointe Coupe
Multiple Locations

Plaquemine Bank & Trust
(225) 687-6388

Red River Bank
Current RRB Clients will Receive Priority
Multiple Locations

Regions Bank
Multiple Locations

Resource Bank
(225) 636-2422

State Bank & Trust Company
Multiple Locations

Whitney Bank
Multiple Locations

Other Guidance

Louisiana Economic Development has launched a hotline for Louisiana businesses. Companies can call (833) 457-0531 between 8:00 a.m.- 8:00 p.m. or email LEDbiz@la.gov with their questions related to the impact of COVID-19.

The Louisiana Workforce Commission has unemployment insurance information for both employers and employees available at laworks.net.

Click here for an FAQ sheet for employers.

If you have an employee who is refusing to return to work, complete this form. Those employees will be disqualified from all claims.

If a worker quits in the absence of the COVID-19 criteria, employers should immediately inform the Louisiana Workforce Commission via its Form 77 – Separation Notice.

For BRAC’s guidance on balancing the timing of federal aid programs like the Paycheck Protection Program and expanded unemployment benefits for employees, click here.

The State Procurement website maintains a regularly updated list of open and closed bids. To register as a vendor with the State of Louisiana, click here. During the registration process, you will be able to select all of the commodities that your company is able to provide. The State of Louisiana will be issuing Request for Quotes (RFQs) through the Louisiana Procurement and Contract Network (LaPAC), the on-line electronic bid posting and notification system, for the supplies/services currently needed. LaPAC will automatically send an e-mail notification to all of the vendors registered for that specific commodity. You will then be able to submit your pricing and availability electronically.

The Louisiana Procurement and Technical Assistance Center is available to assist businesses with government contracting. Businesses interested in competing for disaster response and recovery contracts should review this flier for steps to ensure that they are procurement ready. Businesses with existing government contracts seeking an equitable adjustment due to COVID-19 should take the following steps:

  • Communicate with your contracting officer (CO), by email for record-keeping, as soon as you think your situation has changed from when your initial contract was negotiated or bid on.
  • Partner with your CO to get authority to deliver late and try to negotiate a revised delivery schedule, extension, and/or revised costs. This may occur with subcontractor disruptions necessitating different subs or sourcing.
  • If you don’t get a response from your CO, email the agency small business representatives for help in getting your CO’s attention.
  • Keep good records including dates of conversations and names of people you spoke or emailed with.
Employee Resources

EFMLEA expands the existing federal medical leave program. Currently, the program provides for 12 weeks of job-protected leave without pay. The new legislation requires companies under 500 employees to provide 12 weeks of leave with the first 2 weeks unpaid, and the final 10 weeks paid at two-thirds of their regular pay for both part-time and full-time employees in the event an employee needs to care for a child because daycare or school is closed. 

Each employee is limited to $200/day to a $10,000 maximum. Employers will receive a tax credit on their portion of Social Security taxes capped at $200/day per employee and $10,000 overall per quarter. Importantly, he Secretary of Labor has the authority to exclude employers with fewer than 50 employees under certain circumstances. 

Click here for more information on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act from the U.S. Department of Labor.

EPSLA applies to only companies with under 500 employees. This new mandate requires companies to pay full wages to employees for up to 2 weeks because of Coronavirus-related leave. The EPSLA applies to both full-time and part-time workers only if the employee is unable to work or telework when: 

  1. The employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19. Generally, payments are capped at $511 per day and $5,110 per employee. 
  2. The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19. Generally, payments are capped at $511 per day and $5,110 per employee. 
  3. The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and needs to seek a medical diagnosis. Generally, payments are capped at $511 per day and $5,110 per employee. 
  4. The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to an order similar to those set forth in 1 and 2 above. Generally, payments are capped at $200 per day and $2,000 per employee. 
  5. The employee is caring for a son or daughter because school is closed, and the usual child care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19 precautions. Generally, payments are capped at $200 per day and $2,000 per employee. 
  6. The employee experiences a substantially similar condition as specified by the government. Generally, payments are capped at $200 per day and $2,000 per employee. 

Like with the EFMLEA, employers will be eligible for tax credits on their Social Security taxes cap at $511/day for the first three types of events and 200/day for the last 3 types of events. 

Click here for more information on employee paid leave rights from the U.S. Department of Labor.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or the “CARES Act” not only increases the available weekly benefit – which in Louisiana is usually capped at about $250 – with a $600 federal supplement, it also broadens eligibility for unemployment benefits dramatically, lengthens the available benefit term, and waives both standard waiting periods and requirements to seek work.

Under CARES, the definition of eligible individuals has been extended beyond hourly and salaried employees to also include the self-employed, gig workers, and those with limited work history. Benefits are also available for those unable to work after contracting COVID-19, or those caring for a family member who contracted COVID-19.

For additional details on unemployment insurance, click here.

Eligible workers can apply for unemployment insurance through the Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) at laworks.net.

Quick videos on unemployment insurance can be found from the LWC here, and from BRAC here.

BRAC's Short-Term Training Resource Guide provides an in-depth listing of career and technical education providers and programs. It does not include every training course on offer, but focuses on growing sectors that provide high-wage careers.

Community Resources

This free online business directory allows retailers greater visibility amid the crisis and provides shoppers access to interact with retailers in ways that follow health and safety protocols. Interested retailers can add their business to the site through the form on the home page.

This area-wide gift card campaign directs 30% of gift card purchases to service staff at participating restaurants. The Keep BR Serving site has a list of participating restaurants, and a registration form for restaurants interested in participating.

The Capital Area United Way’s 211 public resource directory houses employment, food, health, housing, re-entry, and transportation information, searchable by location. Residents may call 211 or text your zipcode to 898-211 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday for resource assistance. 

While local restaurants are no longer able to serve dine-in guests, take-out and delivery options are still available. 225 Magazine put together a comprehensive list of restaurants providing those options. A “Tip it Forward” campaign has been launched to support the men and women of the service industry, LABI launched a #giftcardchallenge to encourage employers to sponsor gift cards for employees to local restaurants, and a Keep BR Serving initiative has been launched to encourage gift card purchases, with 20% of proceeds going back to service staff.

Employers with employee(s) impacted by COVID-19 can set up a grant through the Baton Rouge Area Foundation’s (BRAF) Employees First program to provide financial assistance to those employees and receive beneficial tax deductions while doing so. 

The Baton Rouge Area Foundation has established an emergency relief fund to help people in Louisiana who are affected by the current public health emergency. Businesses and individuals in a position to donate are encouraged to do so. 

Capital Area United Way has established a COVID-19 Community Relief Fund to aid the residents and organizations of its 10-parish region. The fund will be used to assist in the recovery from the pandemic’s impact to the local area. The dollars raised will be used to support its 2-1-1 and Crisis Call operations, funding for COVID-19 expenses as well as the ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) population who have been greatly impacted by business closures during this time.

BRAC has assembled an interactive map of known test sites in the nine-parish region. Clicking on the individual sites reveals details including contact information and whether walk-ins are allowed or a doctor’s note is needed. As more testing sites open and are identified, the map will be updated. Click here to access the map.

BRAC Analysis

BRAC produces regular analysis on its blog to provide timely information for the business community. Topics include federal aid programs, considerations for reopening the economy, policy issues at the state level, and more. 

BRAC Releases COVID-19 Economic Indicator Dashboard for Capital Region

Baton Rouge, La. (July 8, 2021) – The Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) today released its monthly COVID-19 economic indicator dashboard that examines and assesses the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the regional economy. Current and archived dashboards are available online at brac.org/recovery.

Why Ending Enhanced Unemployment is the Logical Choice

As the state and local governments ended practically all pandemic-related masking and capacity restrictions over the last few months, the federal enhancement to unemployment has remained. This guaranteed that unemployed residents earned $547 weekly, as opposed to the typical weekly Louisiana unemployment benefit of $247.

Indicator Dashboard

Job Openings - BR Works

The shifting jobs landscape caused by COVID-19 has resulted in quick workforce changes. Some companies are forced to turn to layoffs and furloughs, while other industry sectors are increasing hiring to meet growing demand. BR Works was established to help laid off community members find new opportunities.

News & BRAC Covid Briefs

BRAC’s July 22 COVID Brief: On-site vax at businesses

With reported new COVID infections reaching a third-highest single day record in Louisiana yesterday, BRAC has aggregated the names of free or nominal cost on-site vaccination programs for businesses of any size to host on-site vaccinations for their employees or for a group of neighboring businesses.

BRAC Releases COVID-19 Economic Indicator Dashboard for Capital Region

Baton Rouge, La. (July 8, 2021) – The Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) today released its monthly COVID-19 economic indicator dashboard that examines and assesses the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the regional economy. Current and archived dashboards are available online at brac.org/recovery.

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