Background: This document contains information gathered by LED and the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness office, with the assistance of Genea Lathers, Planning Branch Manager. This information and associated update articles are provided to keep business and industry stakeholders informed of current activities and actions taken in response to the National and State Emergency Declarations issued due to the COVID‐19 event.
Louisiana Economic Development March 23 ‐ 27 Updates
Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that his request for a statewide Major Disaster Declaration in response to the spread of COVID‐19 in Louisiana was approved by President Donald Trump. The declaration allows the federal government to provide additional support for state and local agencies in dealing with this growing public health emergency.
On March 27th congressional passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, was achieved and POTUS immediately signed the bill into law. The bill contains a number of provisions that will immediately help families and businesses struggling with the impact of the virus.
The small business loans included in the CARES legislation are administered by private banks, and guaranteed through the Small Business Administration’s existing 7(a) loan program. These loans can be used for expenses such as payroll, rent, mortgage and utility expenses – and eight weeks of expenses are forgivable as long as the company meets the loan criteria and maintains its employees on the payroll as outlined in the legislation. Employers with less than 500 employees are eligible and loans are capped at $10 million. This loan program is different from the existing SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans which is administered directly through the Small Business Administration.
The CARES Act includes:
- State Stabilization Fund – $150 billion to states and local governments, allocated by population
- Individual Aid – $1200 financial assistance for most individuals, plus $500 for children (assistance reduced for individuals with adjusted gross incomes above $75,000 for individuals, $150,000 for couples)
- Payroll Tax Credit Refunds – Advance refunds of payroll tax credits enacted in Families First Coronavirus Response Act, providing employers with financial assistance in paying mandated sick and family leave
- Employee Retention Credit – Provides a refundable payroll tax credit for 50 percent of wages paid by employers during the COVID19 crisis; credit is available to employers whose operations were fully or partially suspended or whose gross receipts declined more than 50 percent
- Enhanced Unemployment Insurance ‐ Extension of unemployment benefits to nontraditional employees, including gig workers and freelancers; increases unemployment assistance for four months
Louisiana Economic Development announced the opening of an LED help desk that provides email and hotline support for Louisiana businesses impacted by COVID‐19. For COVID‐19 business questions, LED may be reached at LEDbiz@la.gov or via the toll‐free hotline, (833) 457‐0531. The COVID‐19 hotline is staffed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. Be aware that high call volumes might result in delays. Callers are encouraged to keep trying, leave a voice mail or contact LED via email. For Louisiana businesses seeking federal financial assistance, they are encouraged first to contact the U.S. Small Business Administration at SBA.gov/Disaster to apply for COVID‐19 disaster aid. The SBA Customer Service Center may be reached at (800) 659‐2955, with an additional TTY line for the hearing‐impaired at (800) 877‐8339.
LED is working with all levels of government and the private sector to support Louisiana businesses and their employees during the COVID‐19 pandemic. At the LED website — OpportunityLouisiana.com/covid19 — businesses may find workplace guidance from the Governor’s Stay At Home Order and other proclamations; COVID‐19 public health recommendations; sources of COVID‐19 financial aid; regional resources across the state; and links to information from business and industry trade associations.
Update on Business Support Task Force Actions ~ March 23 ‐ 27, 2020
LED COVID‐19 tab at opportunitylouisiana.com includes local information that can be quickly posted, this allows a way we can provide and amplify local messages and local resources that are posted by REDOs or others. This resource page is fluid and flexible, and will be updated real‐time throughout the duration of this event.
We are finalizing a Rapid Response Fund for Small Biz working capital, with a low interest rate and flexible terms. Final documents are drafted and under review. Anticipate that the program can be announced on Wednesday, 1 April 2020.
Louisiana Department of Revenue March 23‐27 Updates
- LDR provided analysis of CARES Act to the administration.
- LDR is leading daily calls with business association and regional economic development organizations (REDOs) and other stakeholders for reporting of updates by LED, DEQ, LWC, DNR and other agencies.
- LDR provided the UI claims broken down by parish.
- Beginning with the week starting 3/15/20, we have 120,000 new UI claims filed as of 8:00 a.m. 3/26/2020
- Weekly new claimants 3/15/2020‐3/21/220 totaled 71,000
- Thus far, for the week beginning 3/22/2020‐3/26/2020 total new claims 49,000
- For reference and benchmark the 1st week of March 2020 ~ 1,700 new claimants and 14K continued claimants Division of Administration March 23‐27 Updates
- The state is NOT under an office closure.
- All state buildings are closed to the public.
- Customary state government functions shall continue to be performed by state employees, either by “work from home” if possible, or at their designated place of work.
- Employees at work should maintain social distancing.
- All time spent on issues related to the emergency proclamation during regular and overtime hours, including those by workers who are redirected to emergency duties from their normal duties, should be coded as CV‐19.
- Undersecretary Meeting on 3/24 has provided guidance related to coding, tracking, and compensation.
Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC) March 23‐27 Updates
- Clarifying previous temporary allowance for restaurants to sell pre‐packaged beer and growlers and wine curbside by emphasizing that restaurants do not need to obtain a delivery permit prior to engaging in curbside service.
- Temporarily relaxing La. R.S. 26:148 for wine and spirit wholesalers to extend short term credit sales to bars and restaurants impacted by COVID‐19. This extension will go from fifteen (15) to forty‐five (45) days or to April 30, 2020.
- Permitting vape retailers closed due to Governor Edwards’ Stay At Home Order to accept online orders for sales of vape products to be delivered to customers via USPS or common courier. Delivery of cigarettes remain prohibited as per LSA R.S. 47:872.
Update on Business Support Task Force Actions ~ March 23 ‐ 27, 2020
- Temporarily relaxing L.A.C. 55:VII.301 et seq. and allowing retailers to pay wine and spirit wholesalers by a credit card issued by a third party as an alternative to payment by cash or check, while giving wine and spirit wholesalers discretion as to whether credit card payments will be accepted in this instance.
- Permitting Class A‐General (AG) bars closed for public safety concerns to be allowed to lease to public interest, non‐profit, or charitable organizations the use of the business’s kitchen for preparation of meals to be distributed in the community. Sale of alcohol remains prohibited in these circumstances.
Louisiana Work Force Commission March 23‐27 Updates
- As more businesses are forced to shutter because of the coronavirus, unemployment claims have skyrocketed. The state’s labor secretary Ava Dejoie said 71,000 people filed new unemployment applications last week, compared to the usual 1,400 or 1,500 people per week.
- For employers having difficulty securing work permits for minors in your parish(es), visit the special Labor Programs section of LWC’s COVID‐19 page here: http://www.laworks.net/PublicRelations/COVID_19_Information.asp.
Louisiana Insurance Commission March 23‐27 Updates
Insurance: Insurance Commission issued Emergency Rule 39 to provide for the procedure whereby insureds who operate commercial enterprises in Louisiana can make demand upon their admitted insurers to allow for either a mid‐ term self‐audit by the insured or a physical audit by the insurer of those insurance policies that are auditable in order to appropriately and immediately adjust the premium for the risks that have negatively affected the ability of commercial enterprises to operate in the normal course of their business. Additionally, Emergency Rule 39 sets forth the procedures that will control the actions of those admitted insurers who have provided commercial insurance coverage to those commercial insureds whose insurance policies are rated using an auditable exposure basis, including but not limited to, payroll, sales, enrollment, attendance, occupancy rates, square footage or any other basis.
Regarding Health Insurance: https://www.ahip.org/health‐insurance‐providers‐respond‐to‐coronavirus‐covid‐19/Louisiana Business Emergency Operations Center March 23‐27 Updates
- Coordinating daily other state BEOCs on trends, information sharing, and best practices.
- The Trump administration is expected to soon direct how manufacturers will distribute crucial medical supplies ‐‐ including protective gear and ventilators ‐‐ to combat the outbreak, alleviating what U.S. governors have complained is a chaotic marketplace for the products.
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will take charge of allocating the supplies nationwide, according to three people familiar with the matter, under a clause of the Defense Production Act. The law gives the government vast powers to direct industrial production in crises.
- Managing many inquiries regarding PPE.
- PPE – many companies, they are offering mainly small sewing companies w/no access to raw material.
- GOHSEP is coordinating with DEQ on the liability/requirements to manufacture sanitizer since the FDA/OSHA requirements are very strict.
- We have several distilleries in D91 that are ready to switch over to sanitizer.
- As we have continued to emphasize during this COVID 19 pandemic, many of our small businesses are impacted by the mandatory shut downs and restrictions to remain at our homes. We would like to take this opportunity to remind the citizens of Louisiana that our seafood industry is also comprised of many small businesses. These businesses are critical to the economies of our coastal parishes and coastal communities. With restaurants and bars closed, a lot of the retail buyers for these products are not operating. We are encouraging people to buy seafood at their local farmer’s markets, grocery stores, and other retail food businesses. It is imperative that we continue to support Louisiana’s fishing industries and the local communities of which they are a part.
Louisiana Small Business Development Centers March 23‐27 Updates
- The SBA is experiencing extremely high call volume and web traffic as companies across the country apply for assistance. They are working to increase their capacity.
- The Louisiana Small Business Development Center network remains committed to helping the Louisiana small business community through the COVID‐19 (Coronavirus) event. To adhere to current medical guidance from federal and local government, the Louisiana Small Business Development Center has transitioned to offer our 1:1 business advisory and consulting services virtually using an online platform of choice. To request assistance, visit the website at www.lsbdc.org and users will be directed to electronically request assistance via email. We have also postponed all in‐person workshops, and will provide further updates regarding possible workshops in webinar format.
- Programs and applications for assistance are available to help existing small businesses handle economic loss associated with COVID‐19. Governor John Bel Edwards announced that all small businesses in Louisiana are eligible to receive COVID‐19 disaster aid from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
- Please contact the Louisiana Small Business Development Center at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a virtual meeting or phone call with a Business Consultant and to learn more about programs being developed, and be sure to check www.lsbdc.org for updates.
Planning Branch Manager
Governor’s Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness Emergency Management Preparedness Section
7667 Independence Boulevard, Baton Rouge, LA 70806
Don Pierson, Secretary
Louisiana Economic Development T 225.342.5388