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.

BRAC and the Louisiana business community released a framework for restarting the Louisiana economy in a responsible and safety-oriented manner. The “Safe at Work” framework focuses on issues for businesses and elected officials around the state to consider as reopening plans are made. The document is meant to serve as a start to the conversation for returning more employees and businesses to work, rather than serving as a final, prescriptive set of answers or solutions. Read the framework here.

OpenSafely.la.gov allows business owners to register and receive up-to-the minute information on what phase their business is considered, what phase the state is in as Louisiana moves through phases of return and what social distancing and sanitation guidelines are required for their specific operation in each phase. Registration is not required, and documents are available to download without registering; however, registration allows businesses to receive information as it is updated.

Louisiana is currently in a Phase 3 of reopening. The Executive Order for the current Phase 3 guidelines can be found here. Visit the state's COVID update page here for additional resources.

On July 11, 2020, Governor Edwards issued a statewide mask mandate. The order requires face coverings for everyone ages 8 and older. Read more.

On July 1, 2020, East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome announced a requirement that all commercial and non-profit entities in EBR, but outside the cities of Baker, Central, and Zachary, which provide goods or services directly to the public must implement a “No Mask – No Service” policy. The policies must go into effect by July 3, 2020 at 12:01 p.m. Read the full executive order here, and BRAC’s analysis of the order here.

To help businesses comply with the requirement that signage be posted at or near all entrances stating that masks must be worn on the premises, BRAC created two downloadable sign options.

A package of newly-passed state legislation provides protection from COVID-19 exposure lawsuits for companies, non-profits, government entities, and others, as long as they are in substantial compliance with relevant health and safety laws. A BRAC blog post provides more detail on the individual bills and the protection each provides.

CISA’s guidance on identifying critical infrastructure can be found here. Businesses should not assume they are closed unless explicitly specified in the Governor’s order. BRAC’s guidance on addressing the grey area in the order may be found here.

If you are unsure about where your business falls, contact Louisiana Economic Development at LEDbiz@la.gov or via the toll-free hotline, (833) 457-0531. Businesses are also advised to contact the Governor’s office and consult with legal counsel to verify compliance with the orders.

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.

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.

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.

The Louisiana Loan Portfolio Guaranty Program offers loans of up to $100,000 to Louisiana small businesses of fewer than 100 employees that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The loans require no payments for 180 days at interest rates of no more than 3.5 percent. The total loan pool is $50 million. FAQs, a list of participating banks, and additional information is available on LED’s website.

Lenders interested in participating should contact LED by calling Business Development Manager Kelly Raney at 225.342.0411 or by emailing her at LEDSmallbizloans@la.gov.

The Federal Main Street Lending Program is designed to help credit flow to small and medium-sized businesses that were in sound financial condition before the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, but now need loans to help maintain their operations until they have recovered from, or adapted to, the impacts of the pandemic.

Loans originated under the program have several features that will help businesses facing challenges. The program offers 5-year loans, with floating rates, and principal and interest payments deferred as indicated in the chart below to assist businesses facing temporary cash flow interruptions.

The loans range in size from $250,000 to $300 million – a wide range that may support a broad set of employers.

Watch this video for more information.

The SBA reopened the PPP on January 11 to businesses that have not yet taken a PPP loan. The program is initially limited to the following types of lenders: : Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs), Certified Development Companies (CDCs), and Microloan Intermediaries. CDFIs and similar groups are financial intermediaries with community development as their primary mission. Many area banks and other traditional lenders are approved CFDIs.  To access a PPP loan today, contact an area lender directly.

The PPP will open soon for draws from companies that have already received a loan. If your company falls in that category and would like to pursue a second draw, contact your local lender to prepare.

Applications will close March 31, 2021. PPP loans are 100% forgivable if spent on eligible expenses, which include payroll, mortgage, rent, utilities, and other vital needs. Any part of the loan that is not forgiven has a fixed 1% interest rate. Loans have a 2-5 year maturation period. No collateral or personal guarantees are required. Visit the SBA’s PPP website for more specific information about the program, or contact an area lender today.

brief from the Congressional Research Service, updated December 31, explains previous guidance from the Internal Revenue Service regarding recipients of forgivable loans under the PPP and their inability to claim a deduction for expenses funded from forgiven loans. The inability to claim deductions was nullified by the recently-enacted Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 133), which included the Tax Relief Act of 2020. Under this new legislation, borrowers can now deduct expenses paid out of forgiven PPP loans.  
In October 2020, the SBA issued updated guidance on PPP loans:

Deferral Period for PPP Payments
In a new FAQ, the SBA clarified that the deferral period for all loan payments is either the date that the SBA remits the borrower's loan forgiveness amount to the lender, or 10 months after the end of the borrower's covered period (if the borrower does not apply for forgiveness). The extension applies to all PPP loans. Read more here.

Loans of $50,000 or Less
Organizations with loans under $50,000 will not be penalized if they reduced the number of workers or their pay, a welcome change for small businesses for which the prior requirement that headcount and payroll levels remain at pre-COVID levels was sometimes impossible. A new forgiveness application was issued for these smaller loans. Click here to read the Interim Final Rule on this guidance.

The PPP will reopen the week of January 11, 2021, for new borrowers and some existing PPP borrowers. The initial wave of loans issued on Monday, January 11, and Wednesday, January 13, will only be available to community financial institutions, but the PPP will open up to all eligible lenders shortly after.

SBA has provided information for small business owners looking for a PPP loan, which can be found here. Additional information from SBA and the Department of the Treasury can be found at the below links.

Details on this program begin on page 7 of this  this overview from Congress. Louisiana businesses are eligible for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) of up to $2 million, with interest rates of 3.75% for businesses and 2.75% for non-profits, and terms of up to 30 years. The loans provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome temporary loss of revenue. The loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the situation around COVID-19. The loans are available to business with fewer than 500 employees. These loans are not forgivable. The application is available through the Small Business Administration. For detailed program information including loan eligibility, criteria, terms, and a step-by-step guide on how to apply, click here.

  • Eligibility: businesses with 500 employees or fewer, sole proprietorships, independent contractors, cooperatives and employee-owned businesses, tribal small businesses. Small businesses and agricultural coops that meet the size standard are eligible, as are most private non-profits of any size.

Click here for funding options and information from the Small Business Administration.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) will defer all loan payments, including principal, interest and fees for six months. Eligible loans include SBA 7(a) (unless made under the PPP), 504, and microloans.

Click here for funding options and information from the Small Business Administration.

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

PPE Resources

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. 

Our region is experiencing a shortage of personal protection equipment (PPE) needed by front-line healthcare workers in their COVID-19 response. Of particular need are germicidal wipes, hand sanitizer, surgical masks, procedure masks, N95 masks, gowns and protective drapes, goggles, and latex and non-latex gloves of all sizes. Regional leaders are looking for business assistance in the following ways:

  1. Businesses with the above-mentioned items available to donate may do so Monday through Friday, 9 – 11 a.m., at 9455 Plank Road. Contact 225-763-4240 or PPEdonations@brhealthdistrict.com for further instruction. This is an initiative organized by the Baton Rouge Health District, and is currently primarily intended for business to business donations. Please make sure to only include clean, boxed, sealed, and unused containers.
  2. Manufacturers who are interested and able to transition their production to one of the needed items are encouraged to do so. Contact Donnie Miller at donnie@brac.org for guidance.
  3. Businesses or makers with technical abilities to innovate needed items through 3D printing should contact Stephen Loy with the Louisiana Tech Park at stephen@latechpark.com.
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. 

The American Rescue Plan: Historically Large Appropriations Bill Contains COVID Relief and More

CDC Interim Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People

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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

New guidance on the lucrative Employee Retention Tax Credit

After being updated and expanded by Congress twice, The Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) is getting increased attention as a beneficial financial tool for businesses that were affected by the pandemic.

The Capital Region’s $300M Share of the American Rescue Plan

The American Rescue Plan – the COVID relief package that was recently passed into law – not only provided financial assistance to individuals and businesses, but also to state and local governments due to anticipated lower tax collections.

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