COVID-19 Business Updates
We will continuously update this page with news and updates that will be helpful for Downtown businesses during the COVID-19 crisis
QUICK LINKS TO RESOURCES FOR BUSINESSES AND EMPLOYEES IMPACTED BY COVID-19
Small Business Administration (SBA) Loans: Low cost loans up to $2 million are being made available to assist small businesses and nonprofits with immediate cash needs
- Paycheck Protection Program overview: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/paycheck-protection-program-ppp
- Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and Loan Advance overview: https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources#section-header-2
Social Entertainment’s Lost My Gig Fund: Downtown Lafayette is partnering with Social Entertainment to raise money so musicians with cancelled gigs can receive cash support.
LEDA (Lafayette Economic Development Authority): Resources and information for businesses and individuals in our region.
One Acadiana: Resources and information for businesses and individuals in our region
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
The CDC offers the most up-to-date information on COVID-19. This interim guidance is based on what is currently known about the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
For updates from CDC, please see the following:
SEN. BILL CASSIDY CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE MEASURES
Sen. Bill Cassidy’s office is consistently updating this coronavirus response webpage with the most up-to-date information. It’s a great resource for accurate information.
**Updated as of June 1, 2020**
GOV. EDWARDS ANNOUNCES PHASE 2 GUIDELINES FOR LOUISIANA
Louisiana will allow bars to reopen at reduced capacity and loosen restrictions on a wide range of businesses including restaurants, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Monday, as the state moves into Phase 2 of reopening from coronavirus rules.
Bars, breweries, pool halls, tattoo parlors, swimming pools for recreational use, massage facilities, spas, food courts in shopping malls, skating and event centers can open with restrictions for the first time since March 23.
The new rules take effect June 5 and run for three weeks, like the first phase. Under the second phase, restaurants, retailers and other businesses that have been operating at 25% capacity for the past two weeks can up their capacity to 50%.
PARTNERS RELAUNCH ACADIANA OPPORTUNITY WEB PORTAL TO CONNECT PEOPLE WITH JOBS
One Acadiana, LEDA, Acadiana Workforce Solutions, and other partners relaunched AcadianaOpportunity.com, a web portal that helps connect individuals seeking training or employment with resources. The initiative will be featured on an upcoming webinar with regional higher education leaders this Tuesday, May 19.
The Acadiana Opportunity portal includes an in-take form for workers who have lost their job due to COVID-19 to connect with a representative of Acadiana Workforce Solutions, who will determine their eligibility for grant funding that could help cover the cost of enrolling in training or certification classes. Youth age 16-24 can also apply for other grant funding intended to support paid work experience.
Additionally, the portal lists relevant course offerings at SLCC, LSU Eunice, and UL Lafayette, as well as job assistance resources available through Acadiana Workforce Solutions, LEDA, and Louisiana Job Connection.
“SAFE AT WORK” FRAMEWORK RELEASED
UNITED WAY PARTNERS TO ADDRESS FOOD INSECURITY
GOV. JOHN BEL EDWARDS CREATES RESILIENT LOUISIANA COMMISSION IN RESPONSE TO COVID-19
On Thursday, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the creation of Resilient Louisiana, a state commission charged with examining Louisiana’s economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic and making recommendations for more resilient business-related activities and commerce in the coming months.
The 18-member panel includes Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, and will be co-chaired by Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson and health care leader Terrie Sterling, a Baton Rouge consultant and retired Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System executive.
FAQS FROM LOUISIANA WORKFORCE COMMISSION
Have a question about unemployment insurance benefits? Check out LWC’s FAQs link for more info:
ACADIANA CREATIVE RELIEF FUND
Are you an artist in Acadiana looking for a break during these difficult times? Due to generous donations by anonymous donors and amazing support from the Acadiana community, we are happy to announce we will be offering $300 stipends to artists in Acadiana through our Creative Relief Fund.
The application is now live on ACA’s website here. Please share with any artist you know that has been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Are you wanting to jump in and help our artist community? ACA is accepting donations of any size to the Creative Relief Fund through our website as well. All donations made will be given to an artist in need and are tax-deductible. You can make your generous donation here.
ARCH SUPPORT FOR HOMELESSNESS (FAQ)
The Acadiana Regional Coalition on Homelessness and Housing (ARCH), with the support of volunteer organizations, has been working to maintain the health and safety of Acadiana citizens experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although this unprecedented event is challenging the normal efforts to end homelessness, ARCH is working diligently to seek the most appropriate and effective solutions.
LOUISIANA PROGRAM TO OFFER COVID-19 SMALL BUSINESS HELP
Today, 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.
Interested businesses may find loan details at OpportunityLouisiana.com/covid19, and a list of participating bankers will be posted at the site by Friday as banks complete their participation agreements.
OVERVIEW INFORMATION OF THE PAYMENT PROTECTION PROGRAM
I wanted to make certain you are all aware that the Paycheck Protection Program application was released yesterday. In other words, a network of community banks and financial institutions is gearing up to implement one of the most ambitious economic relief programs in U.S. history faceas small businesses across the country weather the coronavirus and its economic fallout.
Starting April 3, 2020, small businesses and sole proprietorships can apply. Starting April 10, 2020, independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply. We encourage you to apply as quickly as you can because there is a funding cap. The application for the Payroll Protection Program can be found here.
RESTAURANT EMPLOYEE RELIEF FUND
The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation has created the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund to provide grants to restaurant industry employees who have been adversely impacted by COVID-19, financially, whether through a decrease in wages or loss of employment. Each approved grant is $500 and limited to one per person. Eligibility requirements for applying can be found here.
The application opens on Thursday, April 2.
COVID-19 HELP WANTED
Businesses throughout the region are hiring workers to meet customer demands during the crisis. For a list of businesses that are hiring, click on the link below.
LAFAYETTE MAYOR-PRESIDENT GUILLORY OPENS CALL CENTER TO ASSIST BUSINESS OWNERS, EMPLOYERS, AND JOB SEEKERS
Lafayette Consolidated Government (LCG) and the Louisiana Economic Development Authority (LEDA) are “getting ahead of the curve” by opening a new call center on Monday, March 30 that will be part of the city’s 311 information phone line:
- From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., business owners, employees and those looking for jobs can call 311 and press ‘2’ to get information on how to apply for small business loans, unemployment benefits and find businesses that are hiring.
- The call center will be based at LEDA with personnel knowledgeable with this information. If callers cannot get through, they can leave a message.
- Same-day call return services exist for those who leave messages. The call center will be expanded as needed.
- From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., business owners who prefer physical printed copies of business resources and applications can pick up a packet from the LCG City Hall drive-thru.
LOUISIANA WORKFORCE COMMISSION (LWC) GUIDANCE FOR EMPLOYERS
If you are temporarily closing or reducing your hours of operations due to COVID-19, please contact the LWC to discuss how they can provide assistance and answer your questions about unemployment insurance and other programs and resources available.
ACADIANA CENTER FOR THE ARTS: RESOURCES FOR ARTISTS AND ART ORGANIZATIONS
AcA has gathered resources from partner organizations and national organizations to quickly share information to respond to the immediate need of artists and art organizations in the Acadiana community. They will continue to add resources from partners as they receive them. If you are looking to support the arts and culture sector in this time of need, please reach out at [email protected].
LOVE OUR COMMUNITY RELIEF FUND
Love Our Community, an initiative created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to provide educational resources and support the community, recently announced the Love Our Community Relief Fund. The fund is a matching grant program for the purpose of rendering quarantine aid and support to combat COVID-19. For more information, visit the link below or email [email protected].
COVID-19 FEDERAL RESPONSE MEASURES
Our partners at One Acadiana continue to monitor federal policy developments in response to COVID-19. 1A’s Policy team provided a brief with the latest information as of March 31, which includes details on the Paycheck Protection Program, a $349 billion expansion of the SBA’s 7(a) loan program. These new loans are aimed at helping small businesses, 501(c)(3)s, and more cover near-term operating expenses and keep their employees.
CARES ACT SIGNED BY PRESIDENT TRUMP
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, is a law meant to address the economic fallout of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic in the United States. President Donald Trump on Friday signed the $2 trillion coronavirus economic stimulus bill, dispersing much-needed financial relief for millions of Americans set back by the pandemic.
President Trump signed the bill hours after the U.S. House of Representatives passed it with a bipartisan vote.
The legislation, which was passed unanimously by the Senate, will provide billions of dollars in relief for struggling industries, a significant boost to unemployment insurance and direct cash payments to Americans, many of whom have been financially crippled by the outbreak.
This document from Sen. Bill Cassidy’s office provides a high-level summary of the individual, workforce, small business, revenue, and education provisions contained within H.R. 748, which passed the Senate on Wednesday, March 25th.
SBA ECONOMIC INJURY DISASTER LOAN APPLICATION IS NOW OPEN FOR LOUISIANA BUSINESSES
The SBA issued the official disaster declaration for Louisiana small businesses, adding a link to their website to begin receiving applications to address revenue losses related to COVID-19. Low-interest loans with long-term repayment programs are available up to $2 million. These loans also include a $10,000 cash advance to be distributed within 3 days. SBA staff advise the process will take approximately 30-45 days to begin receiving funds and are encouraging applications immediately.
Apply on SBA’s website here.
Small businesses are also advised to call your lenders. Your current bank may already be able to offer immediate bridge loan assistance or defer existing loan payments.
ADDITIONAL GUIDANCE ON NEW FEDERAL PAID LEAVE MANDATES
U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy’s office has shared a summary of the new law that passed, The Families First Coronavirus Response Act. In short, most employers are now required to provide sick leave to workers affected by the COVID-19 crisis, and federal tax credits will be offered in an attempt to reimburse employers.
Read more here.
Experts at Forbes have offered this breakdown of the new mandates, which you may also find helpful.
Read more here.
The US Department of Labor is authorized to waive the mandate for some small businesses, and state officials expect that guidance by next week.
LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE EXTENDS SALES TAX FILING DEADLINE
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Louisiana Department of Revenue has issued a two month extension, to May 20, for businesses to file returns for their sales and excise taxes.
According to LDR’s official announcement, the extension will apply to sales, beer, and wine excise tax returns and payments for the February 2020 period. In addition, the Department will be waiving penalties and interest for returns and payments received by the extended deadline.
IRS DELAYS INCOME TAX PAYMENTS TO JULY 15
As part of the federal government’s response to the Coronavirus crisis, the Internal Revenue Service issued guidance allowing all individual tax filers to defer up to $1 million of federal income tax (including self-employment tax) payments originally due on April 15 until July 15 without penalties or interest. Similarly, the new deadline for corporate tax payments up to $10 million is also July 15.
The IRS encourages filers to meet the April 15 deadline so they can receive refunds sooner.
The state filing extension follows the U.S. Treasury Department’s decision to move the federal income tax deadline from April 15 to July 15. The state filing extension is automatic for eligible taxes and no extension request is necessary.
For more tax information, visit the IRS Coronavirus Tax Relief website.
INFORMATION ON UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION
While coronavirus cases move across the 64 parishes, the impact will be felt statewide. The Louisiana Workforce Commission has provided guidelines and information regarding unemployment insurance for employers and workers affected by the crisis.
To see LWC’s guidance for workers, click here
Under new guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of Labor, the state is now permitted to pay benefits to workers when:
- An employer temporarily ceases operations due to COVID-19, preventing employees from coming to work;
- An individual is quarantined with the expectation of returning to work after the quarantine is over; and
- An individual leaves employment due to a risk of exposure or infection or to care for a family member.
These new provisions do not require an employee to quit in order to receive benefits due to the impact of COVID-19, nor will employees have to conduct the usual job search required of Unemployment Compensation recipients.