Thought Leadership Thursday
Helping Small Businesses in Louisiana
Thought Leadership Thursday Article
Harvard University just released sobering statistics on the pandemic’s impact on small businesses. In some states, the number of small businesses that are open decreased by more than 40% between January 2020 and April 2021.
Small businesses in Louisiana certainly are struggling. However, the situation is not as dire as it is in other states. Part of the reason for that may be the Main Street Recovery Program.
Main Street was created by the Louisiana Legislature and administered by the Louisiana Treasury. The program distributed $262 million in CARES Act money to 20,751 small businesses across Louisiana. The grants helped both urban and rural areas. In other words, we didn’t just impact the heavily populated parts of the state like New Orleans. We also helped small Louisiana towns like Zwolle, which takes pride in its tamales.
What’s extraordinary about the Main Street Recovery Program is we launched it without much of a blueprint. In fact, when conversations started at the State Capitol last year about creating the program, we had few models to study for comparison. Yet, we moved from program launch to final grant disbursement within six months. It’s staggering what you can do when you’re driven to help businesses that are drowning.
The need for the program motivated us. Small businesses were dying on the vine. Beauticians couldn’t cut hair. Restaurants could only offer takeout. Even farmers weren’t immune to the economic impact of the pandemic. It wasn’t unusual to see a crawfish farmer sitting in my office asking for help.
The Main Street Recovery Program helped businesses thrive and survive by covering certain reimbursable expenses. Basically, we helped with the cost of implementing safety measures that helped them operate in a COVID 19-world.
I am very proud of what Main Street achieved. I’ve even offered to reopen the program if the Legislature provides the funding. To take a closer look at the program here.
John M. Schroder