COVID-19 Resource Center
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Updated on September 11, 2020


RESOURCES FOR IMPACTED BUSINESSES & GOVERNMENTS

North Louisiana Economic Partnership is working with the State of Louisiana to monitor and assist businesses impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. NLEP is supporting the efforts of Louisiana Economic Development (LED) to promote business continuity, aimed at safeguarding economic, as well as public health. To provide assistance to our impacted businesses, NLEP has created this information hub to provide useful information about resources available to businesses and individuals affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.  Some important links to key disaster relief programs follow to help you quickly browse the Resource Center:

Community Assistance Programs

Economic Development Administration 

The U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA) is now accepting applications from eligible grantees for Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) supplemental funds. The $1.5 billion EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance funds are intended to help communities prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus. The EDA has now made the funds available through an Addendum to its Fiscal Year 2020 Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance Notice of Funding Opportunity.

EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance investments will support a wide range of non-construction and construction activities, including Revolving Loan Funds, in regions across the country experiencing severe economic dislocations brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. Examples of projects that EDA may fund through its CARES Act Recovery Assistance include economic recovery planning and preparing technical assistance strategies to address economic dislocations caused by the coronavirus pandemic, preparing or updating resiliency plans to respond to future pandemics, implementing entrepreneurial support programs to diversify economies, and constructing public works and facilities that will support economic recovery, including the deployment of broadband for purposes including supporting telehealth and remote learning for job skills.

Eligible applicants under the EDA program include:

  • District Organization

  • Indian Tribe or a consortium of Indian Tribes

  • State, county, city, or other political subdivision of a state, including a special purpose unit of a state or local government engaged in economic or infrastructure development activities, or a consortium of political subdivisions

  • Institution of higher education or a consortium of institutions of higher education

  • Public or private non-profit organization or association acting in cooperation with officials of a political subdivision of a state

Learn more about EDA Assistance>>>

Apply for CARES Act Recovery Assistance>>>
 

Federal Reserve’s Lending Program Bails Out States and Local Governments

The Federal Reserve’s short-term municipal note program opened today to states and local governments, struggling with financial woes during the pandemic. The Municipal Liquidity Facility (MLF) has begun accepting notices of interest, which is the initial step for an eligible issuer to provide eligibility information for review. However, the Fed said the MLF should be considered as a last resort. 

The Federal Reserve established the MLF to help state and local governments better manage cash flow pressures in order to continue to serve households and businesses in their communities. The program will purchase up to $500 billion of short term notes directly from U.S. states (including the District of Columbia), U.S. counties with a population of at least 500,000 residents, and U.S. cities with a population of at least 250,000 residents. Eligible state-level issuers may use the proceeds to support additional counties and cities.

The New York Fed yesterday released application materials and legal documents for issuers interested in the program. 

Download Notice of Interest>>>

MLF FAQs>>>

CDFA Article>>>

Business Assistance Programs

Louisiana's Main Street Recovery Program Continues to Accept Grant Applications  

Louisiana small businesses can apply for up to $15,000 in grants from the Main Street Recovery Program. The Louisiana Department of Treasury administers the $275 million Main Street Recovery Program, set up to help Louisiana small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the first 60 days, $40 million will go to businesses owned by women, minorities and veterans. The Main Street Recovery Program has awarded $19 million in grants to small businesses through Sept. 2, according to State Treasurer John M. Schroder. 

The program has received over 21,000 applications since it began at the end of July. Businesses owned by minorities, women, and veterans have received nearly $15 million, according to Treasurer Schroder.

Applicants have the option to receive "QuickRelief,' which offers an abbreviated grant process. With this option being the most popular, the program now allows applicants to receive $15,000 for eligible expenses through QuickRelief after offsetting other federal aid received. Previously, this option had a lower cap on the grant and was only available to businesses with prior air of $1,000 or less.

Visit www.louisianamainstreet.com and click on “Apply Now,” and small business owners will be asked six questions to determine if they are eligible for the Main Street Recovery program. To qualify, a business must meet the following criteria: 

Eligibility Requirements: 

  • Domiciled in Louisiana as of March 1, 2020

  • Suffered an interruption of business

  • At least 50% owned by one or more Louisiana residents

  • Filed Louisiana taxes in 2018 or 2019 or will file taxes in 2020.

  • Had no more than 50 full-time employees as of March 1, 2020

  • Have customers or employees visit a physical location

  • Are not part of a bigger business with more than 50 full-time workers

  • Does not exist for the purpose of advancing partisan political activity and does not directly lobby federal or state officials

State Treasurer John Schroder, whose office is managing the program, has advised businesses to gather documents in the weeks before the application period begins. Receipts will need to be submitted in order to be reimbursed for COVID-related costs. Have a  list of eligible expenses and the following information gathered to apply online when the application period starts on July 28th:   

  • Federal Taxpayer Identification Number

  • State Taxpayer Identification Number

  • Louisiana Department of Revenue account number

  • Business date of formation/creation

  • Documentation to support eligible expenses (invoices, proof of payment, payroll records, vendor contracts, bank/credit card statements, rental agreements or mortgage statements, utility bills, etc.)

  • Number of full-time equivalent employees (as of March 1, 2020)

  • Information for all “Controlling Owners” of the business (defined as individuals or entities who exercise the power to make policy decisions). Information includes Name, Job Title, SSN or EIN, Residential Address, and Driver’s license Number.

  • Information regarding other sources of COVID-19 funding received from United Stated SBA programs (PPP, EIDL, EIDL Emergency Advance), other federal program, or insurance proceeds

  • Copies of filed tax returns for 2018 and 2019

A call center to assist with questions is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The call center number is 1-888-795-4947.  NLEP and the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce also hosted a Zoom webinar with State Treasurer John Schroder today to answer your questions.  If you didn't get a chance to join the webinar live,  you can watch the recorded presentation.  

If businesses received money from the PPP, they may also receive money from the Main Street program, however, assistance received from other sources will be subtracted from their claimed amount on their grants, according to www.louisianamainstreet.com .

Paycheck Protection Program Forgiveness

Following the passage of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Department of Treasury rolled out the Paycheck Protection Progam (PPP) to help small businesses, 501(c)3 nonprofits and other qualifying organizatons and individuals maintain their payrolls and keep workers on staff amidst the COVID-19 crisis. The 100% federally guaranteed, low-interest loans may be forgiven if borrowers use 60% of the loan to maintain their payrolls during the crisis, essentially converting the loans into grants for eligible expenditures. The PPP closed on August 8th. The SBA is now processing loan forgiveness applications. Learn more

The SBA, in consultation with the US Treasury, released two revised loan forgiveness applications for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): the SBA Form 3508 and a new EZ application for forgiveness. The applications reflect changes to the PPP made by the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act of 2020, P.L. 116-142. 

Congress passed the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act on June 5, 2020 to make it easier for small businesses and other PPP borrowers to qualify for full loan forgiveness. 

  • Employers were previously limited to an 8-week period to use the funds. The new bill extends this period to 24 weeks. New PPP borrowers will have a 24-week covered period, but the covered period can’t extend beyond Dec. 31, 2020. This flexibility is designed to make it easier for more borrowers to reach full, or almost full, forgiveness. Borrowers can use the 24-week period to restore their workforce levels and wages to the pre-pandemic levels required for full forgiveness. This must be done by Dec. 31, a change from the previous deadline of June 30.

  • The payroll expenditure requirement drops to 60%, meaning that borrowers must spend at least 60% on payroll or none of the loan will be forgiven. 

  • The legislation includes two new exceptions allowing borrowers to achieve full PPP loan forgiveness even if they don’t fully restore their workforce. Previous guidance already allowed borrowers to exclude from those calculations employees who turned down good faith offers to be rehired at the same hours and wages as before the pandemic. The new bill allows borrowers to adjust because they could not find qualified employees or were unable to restore business operations to Feb. 15, 2020, levels due to COVID-19 related operating restrictions.

  • Borrowers now have five years to repay the loan instead of two. The interest rate remains at 1%.

  • The bill allows businesses that took a PPP loan to also delay payment of their payroll taxes, which was prohibited under the CARES Act.

SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL)

SBA continues to accept applications for its Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) but have closed the EIDL Advance for small businesses.The EIDL loan program provides funds at very affordable terms, including a 3.75% interest rate for small businesses and 2.75% for non-profit organizations, a 30-year maturity, and an automatic deferment of one year before monthly payments begin. The low interest loans are in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Loan amounts have been capped at $150,000. For a summary of SBA disaster loans,  Read Details>>>.

More Resource about COVID-19 disaster loans:

Contact: SBA Louisiana District Office, 504-589-6685

If you need help applying for the SBA disaster relief loan, small businesses can obtain assistance to apply for the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans through the Louisiana Small Business Development Centers.  In Northeast Louisiana, call the LSBDC at ULM at 318-342-1224 or register online. In Northwest & Central Louisiana, call the LSBDC at BPCC at 318-678-6142 or register online. 

SBA Express Bridge Loans

Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program allows small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 with less paperwork. These loans can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing and can be a term loan or used to bridge the gap while applying for a direct SBA Economic Injury Disaster loan. If a small business has an urgent need for cash while waiting for a decision and disbursement on an Economic Injury Disaster Loan, they may qualify for an SBA Express Disaster Bridge Loan. Read Details>>>

Terms:
  • Up to $25,00
  • Fast turnaround
  • Will be repaid in full or in part by proceeds from the EIDL loan

Find an Express Bridge Loan Lender by connecting with your local SBA District Office>>>.

SBA Debt Relief

As part of the SBA’s coronavirus debt relief efforts, the SBA will pay six months of principal, interest, and any associated fees that borrowers owe for all current 7(a), 504, and Microloans in regular servicing status as well as new 7(a), 504, and Microloans disbursed prior to September 27, 2020. This relief is not available for Paycheck Protection Program loans or Economic Injury Disaster loans. Borrowers do not need to apply for this assistance. It will be automatically provided as follows:

For loans not on deferment, SBA will begin making payments with the next payment due on the loan and will make six monthly payments. For loans currently on deferment, SBA will begin making payments with the next payment due after the deferment period has ended, and will make six monthly payments. For loans made after March 27, 2020 and fully disbursed prior to September 27, 2020, SBA will begin making payments with the first payment due on the loan and will make six monthly payments.

SBA has notified 7(a), 504 and Microloan Lenders that it will pay these borrower loan payments. Lenders have been instructed to refrain from collecting loan payments from borrowers. If a borrower's payment was collected after March 27, 2020, lenders were instructed to inform the borrower that they have the option of having the loan payment returned by the lender or applying the loan payment to further reduce the loan balance after SBA's payment. Borrowers should contact their lender if they have any questions regarding this payment relief. 

Main Street Lending 

As a result of the CARES Act, the Federal Reserve has created the Main Street Lending Program to provide a total of $600 billion in financing for small and medium-sized businesses. The Main Street Program has been expanded to include nonprofit organizations. The Federal Reserve's Main Street Lending program is open and ready for lender registration. Banks looking to lend to small and medium businesses are now able to register with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, which is the administrator for the $600 billion program with three separate lending facilities for businesses. Lender Portal>>>

Lenders can find the necessary registration documents on the program site and are encouraged to begin making Main Street program loans immediately. Register on the program’s lender portal, on which lenders will provide relevant identifying information and sign and submit required registration forms and agreements.

The Main Street Lending Program offers three different business loans, secured or unsecured 4-year term loan options, set at an adjustable rate of LIBOR (1 or 3 month) plus 300 basis points with principal and interest payments deferred for one year for eligible borrowers. Unlike PPP loans, Main Street loans are full-recourse loans and are not forgivable.

The Fed said it will allow businesses with up to 15,000 employees and $5 billion in annual revenues to qualify for loans— expanding the earlier limit of 10,000 employees and $2.5 billion in revenue. The minimum loan size is $500,000 for two of the options and $10 million on the expanded loan option.  Read Main Street factsheet>>>
Main Street Lending Factsheet
FAQ

For 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(19) nonprofits, two types of loans are available: the Nonprofit New Loans and the Nonprofit Expanded Loans. Nonprofit New Loans start at $250,000 and are capped at the lesser of $35 million or the nonprofit’s average 2019 quarterly revenue. Nonprofit Expanded Loans start at $10 million and are capped at the lesser of $300 million or the nonprofit’s average 2019 quarterly revenue. Under both facilities, the loans have a term of five years with principal payments deferred for the first two years and interest payments deferred for the first year of the loan. The interest rate under both facilities is LIBOR plus three percent. To be eligible for participation in the program, nonprofits must meet the following criteria:

  • Tax-exempt organization under section 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(19) of the Internal Revenue Code

  • Operational history of at least five years

  • At least one of the following: 15,000 employees or fewer, or 2019 revenues of less than $5 billion

  • 2019 revenues from donations of less than 30% of total 2019 revenues

  • At least 50 employees

  • Created or organized in the U.S. or under the laws of the U.S. with significant operations in and a majority of its employees are based in the U.S.

  • Endowment of less than $3 billion

  • Ratio of adjusted 2019 EBIDA to unrestricted 2019 operating revenue, greater than or equal to 5%

  • Ratio of (i) liquid assets at the time of loan origination to (ii) average daily expenses over the previous year, equal to or greater than 90 days, and

  • At the time of loan origination, a ratio of (i) unrestricted cash and investments to (ii) existing outstanding and undrawn available debt, plus the amount of any loan under the facility, plus the amount of any CMS Accelerated and Advance Payments, that is greater than 65%.
     

Louisiana Loan Portfolio Guaranty Program

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. Read Full Press Release>>>

For Businesses:
Interested businesses can learn more about these loans by clicking here, and a list of participating bankers will be posted on the website by Friday as banks complete their participation agreements.

For Lenders:
Other 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

U.S. Department of Agriculture

  • The US Department of Agriculture unveiled the COVID-19 Federal Rural Resource Guide, a tool meant to help rural leaders who are seeking federal funding and partnership opportunities to help address the pandemic. The guide is meant to be a one-stop-shop of federal programs. The resource guide is for:
    • For-profit businesses: Corporations, limited liability companies, sole proprietorships, etc.; agricultural producers and ranchers.
    • Agricultural producers and ranchers
    • Government entities: local, county and state governments.
    • Nonprofits: economic development corps., universities, schools, libraries, faith-based organizations, etc.
    • Hospitals
    • USDA has taken many immediate actions to assist farmers, ranchers, producers, rural communities, and rural-based businesses and organizations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information on these actions, click here>>>

Online Marketplace for Louisiana Farmers

A new online farmer’s market has been established to help Louisiana growers sell their produce and other local goods as the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced the marketplace. Farmers have been significantly impacted by the pandemic after restaurants and school feeding programs were shut down. Food4All, run by the LSU AgCenter, provides an online marketplace at no cost to the seller. Visit Food4All>>>

Tax Credit and Deferment Programs

Employee Retention Payroll Tax Credit 

This federal payroll tax credit allows a credit of up to $5,000 for each employee on the payroll when certain conditions are met. The entity had to be an ongoing concern at the beginning of 2020 and had seen a drop in revenue of at least 50 percent in the first quarter compared to the first quarter of 2019. The availability of the credit would continue each quarter until the organization’s revenue exceeds 80 percent of the same quarter in 2019. For tax-exempt organizations, the entity’s whole operations must be taken into account when determining the decline in revenues. Notably, employers receiving emergency SBA 7(a) loans would not be eligible for these credits. Section 2301. FAQ>>>

Refundable Payroll Tax Credits

The U.S. Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Department of Labor announced that small and midsize employers can begin taking advantage of two new refundable payroll tax credits, designed to immediately and fully reimburse them, dollar-for-dollar, for the cost of providing Coronavirus-related leave to their employees. This relief to employees and small and midsize businesses is provided under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, March 18, 2020. Read Details>>>   

Employer Portion of Federal Payroll Deferment 

Delays Payroll Tax Payments for Employers. Employers will be able to delay the payment of their 2020 payroll taxes until 2021 and 2022, leading to approximately $300 billion of extra cash flow for businesses.
 

Become a Vendor for Disaster Relief

State of Louisiana

Louisiana Business Emergency Operations Center Vendor Information: Businesses seeking to help meet the needs of the state during this challenging time, should access the following link and register as a vendor in the LaGov vendor system. Read Details>>>>   During the registration process, you will be able to select all of the commodities that your company is able to provide. Read A step-by-step guide for contracting during disasters>>>.  

The State of Louisiana will be issuing a Request for Quotes (RFQs) through the Louisiana Procurement and Contract Network (LaPAC), through an 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.

Federal Government

Federal Emergency Management Agency is directing suppliers and donors that have asked how they can help in the COVID-19 relief efforts to the following website: Read details>>>

  • To sell medical supplies or equipment to the federal government, please email specifics to covidsupplies@fema.dhs.gov.

  • If you are a private company that wants to produce a product related to the COVID response – email nbeoc@max.gov.

SBIR/STTR  Phase I Proposals Responding to COVID-19 Crisis

The Division of Innovation and Industrial Partnerships (IIP) of the Engineering Directorate invites U.S.-based small businesses to submit Phase I proposals focused on the development and deployment of new technologies, products, processes, and services with the potential to positively impact the nation’s and world’s ability to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. Areas of research that might be considered include, but are not limited to: artificial intelligence, digital health, diagnostics, distributed ledger, environmental technologies, medical devices, pharmaceutical technologies, disinfection and sterilization, and filtration and separations. Interested proposers are invited to submit to the NSF Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I Program. Learn more here>>>

A webinar to discuss this opportunity is Tuesday, 3/31 at 1 pm (CST)  Register here>>>

Employer FAQs

Kean Miller is maintaining a Louisiana Legal Blog for employers. Learn More
Butler Snow addresses frequently asked questions for employers. Learn More
Carr, Riggs, and Ingram is maintaining an active list of resources. Learn More
Thomas, manufacturing resources. Learn more
US Chamber of Commerce Business Guide


Government Actions

State Governments/Louisiana Economic Development

Louisiana Moves into Phase 3 Reopening

Governor John Bel Edwards outlined the details of the State’s Phase 3 Reopening plan as his previous Phase 2 proclamation expired on Sept 11. Businesses previously open under Phase 2 guidelines, operating at 50% capacity such as retail stores, restaurants, churches, salons and gyms, can operate at 75% capacity. The mask mandate and social distancing guidelines will remain in place. 

Bars that were closed for on-premise alcohol consumption under Phase 2 can reopen in parishes where the coronavirus percent positivity is 5% or less, and if the local government decides to opt in. Bars are subject to 25% capacity with no more than 50 people seated inside or outside.  Customers must be seated at tables for tableside alcohol service. Alcohol cannot be served past 10 p.m.

Social gatherings are limited to 50% capacity for the venue and a 250 person maximum. Casinos will remain under Phase 2 guidelines at 50% capacity. Sporting events can take place with 25% capacity and social distancing. 

Nursing homes will remain closed to visits, until the Louisiana Department of Health launches a 28-day pilot program that would facilitate outdoor visits. Nursing homes in parishes with a percent positivity of 5 percent or less and no new coronavirus cases in the past two weeks will be eligible for the pilot program.  

MASK MANDATE

The statewide mask mandate remains in place and applies to all 64 parishes in Louisiana. However, parishes with a COVID-19 incidence of fewer than 100 cases per 100,000 people for the most recent two-week period for which data is available could choose to opt out of the mandate. Parish presidents do not have to opt out and may choose to keep a mask mandate in place. Currently, only three parishes in Louisiana do not exceed this standard, which will be updated every other week by the Louisiana Department of Health: Grant, Red River and West Feliciana.

The order requires face coverings for everyone ages 8 and older except for the following:

  • Anyone who has a medical condition that prevents the wearing of a face covering

  • Anyone who is consuming a drink or food

  • Anyone who is trying to communicate with a person who is hearing impaired

  • Anyone who is giving a speech for broadcast or to an audience

  • Anyone temporarily removing his or her face covering for identification purposes

  • Anyone who is a resident of a parish without a high COVID incidence that has opted out of the masking mandate
  • Masks are strongly recommended for children ages 2 to 7.

Guidance on Reopening

As Louisiana moves forward with opening businesses in a safe, phased-in approach, Governor Edwards and the Louisiana State Fire Marshal's office have launched a new website providing guidelines for businesses to reopen called Open Safely>>>

New CDC Guidance for People Who Test Positive for Coronavirus

New CDC guidance says most adults who had mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms can stop quarantining after 10 days. It also says they do not need to be retested before returning to work.

Experts say the latest scientific data shows most people are no longer infectious 10 days after their symptoms begin. Most adults who have had mild to moderate COVID-19 illness can now leave isolation after completing 10 days in home isolation. Equivalent data for infants and children is not currently available. In the absence of specific data, the same guidelines apply to the pediatric age group.

As the medical community better understands how people are infected and transmit the virus, another significant change is that retesting is no longer recommended in order for most patients to discontinue isolation.

Additional revised CDC guidelines include the following:

  • If COVID-19 patients have had a fever, the recommended number of hours that have passed since their last fever without the use of fever-reducing medications is reduced from 72 to 24 hours to discontinue isolation.

  • Asymptomatic persons can discontinue isolation and other precautions 10 days after the date of their first positive RT-PCR test for SARDS-CoV-2 RNA.

  • For persons who were diagnosed with symptomatic COVID-19 and remained asymptomatic after recovery, retesting is not recommended within 3 months after the date symptoms began for the initial COVID-19 infection.

  • For persons who never developed symptoms, the date of the first positive RT-PCR test for SARS-CoV-2 RNA should be used in place of the date of symptom onset to determine length of isolation.

OHSA Guidelines for Safe Workplaces

The U.S. Chamber created a summary outlining what employers need to know about protecting their workers as they maintain or resume operations in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.The summary describes OSHA's comments and addresses three of the main questions:
  1. How should employers protect their employees?
  2. Do employers have to record cases of COVID-19 on their injury logs?
  3. How will OSHA conduct enforcement related to Coronavirus?

Guidance from Louisiana Department of Health for Reopening

The Louisiana Department of Health released information and guidance for individuals and businesses to comply with the parameters of Governor John Bel Edwards' extended "Stay at Home" order.

For guidance and information on the proper use of masks, Click HERE.

For guidance on protocols for returning critical employees who have been exposed to COVID-19, Click HERE.

For the Office of Public Health's Return to Work After COVID-19 Certification form, Click HERE.

For more information, visit LDH's Coronavirus website or you can call the Louisiana 211 Network by dialing 211. In addition, you can text the keyword LACOVID to 898-211 for regular text updates from LDH on the Coronavirus in our state. 

MEP’s Return to Work Plan

The MEP National Network™, a unique public-private partnership that delivers comprehensive, proven solutions to U.S. manufacturers, is offering a reopening plan for manufacturers. The Return to Work Mitigation Plan Post COVID 19 follows the format being used by several states.   This and similar plans are being utilized by the MEP network throughout the United States as a playbook to assist businesses in their re-opening/ “operations forward” efforts. Read MEP Plan>>>

Kroger’s Blueprint for Reopening 

On a US Chamber of Commerce webinar today, Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen shared his company’s new policies, procedures and lessons learned for keeping customers and employees safe and workers motivated while operating during the COVID-19 crisis. They turned this into a blueprint for businesses of all sizes and sectors of the economy, providing recommendations, insights, best practices and downloadable creative assets to help businesses navigate the next phase of this pandemic. You can access the Kroger Blueprint  for Business here>>>
 

Other State Resources

  • LED has set up a business hotline 225.342.4321 that will be open daily from 8:00 a.m.- 8:00 p.m. help address questions businesses have related to the impact of the coronavirus.  

Federal Government 

New Paid Sick Leave And Expanded Family & Medical Leave Implementation
The U.S. Department of Labor issued new guidance on how American workers and employers will benefit from the protections and relief offered by the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, both part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The department’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) posted a temporary rule issuing regulations pursuant to this new law, effective , April 1, 2020.

The FFCRA requires employers with fewer than 500 workers to provide their employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. In general, employers must provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave at the regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work due to quarantine or illness or up to 80 hours of paid sick leave at 2/3 the regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because of caregiving. Most employers must also provide up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at 2/3 the employee's regular rate of pay for caregiving. As of April 1st, employers must display the new law on a poster in their workplace. Download here>>

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a new poster listing steps all workplaces can take to reduce the risk of exposure to coronavirus. The poster highlights 10 infection prevention measures every employer can implement to protect workers’ safety and health during the coronavirus pandemic. Click Here for Poster>>>

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) developed this COVID-19 planning guidance based on traditional infection prevention and industrial hygiene practices. Employers and workers should use this planning guidance to help identify risk levels in workplace settings and to determine any appropriate control measures to implement. View Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19.

Passed Legislation

The U.S. Congress passed the $2 trillion CARES Act, which the President signed into law, providing disaster relief to businesses and individuals. NLEP has joined with our state Regional EDOs to push for the Payroll Protection Act, the centerpiece of the stimulus package. Congress later appropriated an additional $310 billion in funding for PPP, which is small business relief program that ran out of money  Read details>>> Factsheet here>>>. Bill section by section here>>>. A summary of paid leave provisions, incorporating changes made by technical correction, is here>>>. 

  • CARES ACT 2.0>>
  • Supplemental II – Families First Coronavirus Response Act (HR 6201)
  • Supplemental I – Coronavirus Supplemental
  • Signed by the President March 6. Read Details>>>, summary here>>>

Regulatory Relief & Deadline Extensions

  • The IRS has established a special section focused on steps to help taxpayers, businesses and others affected by the coronavirus. This page will be updated as new information is available. Learn more here>>

  • OMB issued M-20-17 on March 19, 2020, which allows federal agencies to ease administrative requirements and offer extensions for reporting procedures and other requirements.  Read Details>>>

  • Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have issued Questions and Answers for their various programs. Read Details on Multifamily Housing Program>>>
  • Technology Resources Federal Emergency Management Agency extends grace period for flood insurance renewal premiums. Read details>>>

Disaster Assistance for U.S. Exporters

The ExIm Bank announced four temporary relief programs for COVID-affected companies:Read Details>>>

The U.S. Commercial Service and U.S. Export Assistance Center remain open for business.  They are offering virtual services (i.e. video Gold Key Services and web-based programming). 

The Louisiana District Export Council (LDEC) is also available to support.  They are offering the RAISE program: Rural America’s Intelligence Service for Exporters. Serving U.S. rural exporters, this new U.S. Department of Commerce program combines tailored research with an incremental, action- and outcome-based approach to coach rural businesses toward export success. To see how RAISE can strengthen your company’s market entry, contact Tom Hanson at the U.S. Commercial Service in New Orleans (Thomas.hanson@trade.gov).

Other Resources 

COVID-19 Cyber Alert from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)

  • On March 6, 2020 the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released an alert reminding individuals to remain vigilant for scams related to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

  • Cyber actors may send emails with malicious attachments or links to fraudulent websites to trick victims into revealing sensitive information or donating to fraudulent charities or causes. Exercise caution in handling any email with a COVID-19-related subject line, attachment, or hyperlink, and be wary of social media pleas, texts, or calls related to COVID-19. Review CISA Insights on Risk Management for COVID-19 for more information.

Telework Guidance

  • On March 13, 2020, CISA released an alert encouraging organizations to adopt a heightened state of cybersecurity when considering alternate workplace options for their employees. Remote work options—or telework—require an enterprise virtual private network (VPN) solution to connect employees to an organization’s information technology (IT) network. 

  • Review Enterprise Security VPN Alert for more information.

 


WORKFORCE

State Government / Louisiana Workforce Commission 

Front-Line Workers in Louisiana Receive $250 One-time Payment

Louisiana began accepting applications July 15 for a $250 one-time payment offered to front-line employees who checked out grocery customers, worked at nursing homes and performed other essential tasks in the earliest days of the coronavirus pandemic. The deadline to apply is October 31st. Apply HERE>>>

The Department of Revenue announced the application website and process after legislation was signed creating the hazard pay program with federal coronavirus aid. Applicants can visit frontlineworkers.la.gov for eligibility details and to submit a payment request. People are encouraged to apply quickly for the first-come, first-served program because lawmakers only earmarked $50 million in congressional aid for the program — not enough to cover everyone who may be eligible. As many as 200,000 people could be eligible for the $250 one-time payment. The Department of Revenue will verify an applicant’s eligibility.
 
The checks are available to workers with an adjusted gross income of $50,000 or less and who had to report to a job outside of their home for at least 200 hours from March 22 through May 14. They have to hold one of the long list of jobs considered “essential critical infrastructure” under the bill. Eligible workers include nurses, pharmacy staff, health care workers, housekeeping and janitorial staff, home health providers, childcare providers, EMS workers, law enforcement personnel, bus drivers, gas station workers and grocery store employees who meet the income and working hour criteria. The dollars for the hazard payments come from $1.8 billion in direct federal aid sent to Louisiana by Congress to respond to the COVID-19 disease caused by the coronavirus. Most of the money was spent to plug state budget gaps, while lawmakers set aside $275 million for small business grants and $500 million for reimbursement of local government virus response expenses.

Job Postings Increasing on Louisiana Workforce Commission HiRE Website

Employers are beginning to post current job openings in larger numbers on the Louisiana Workforce Commission HiRE website>>>.
If you have job openings, be sure to add your jobs - at no cost - to the HiRE site.

Likewise, job seekers can search and apply for jobs in their region using this site.  Please share the HiRE website with your networks.

Louisiana Workforce Commission Employer Survey

As part of its ongoing efforts to address Louisiana's high unemployment rate during the COVID-19 crisis, the Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) is asking business owners to take a confidential survey to help LWC better understand the impact of the pandemic on the state's employers. Your responses will help to inform LWC’s reemployment efforts, business support services, workforce training initiatives, and occupational forecast. All responses will remain confidential. 
To take this brief employer survey, click here>>>
 

Louisiana to Receive over $3 Million for Registered Apprenticeship Program

The Louisiana Workforce Commission is receiving over $3 million from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to support its registered apprenticeship program, as Louisiana works toward recovering from the impacts of COVID-19. Registered apprenticeships have been the focus of increasing federal workforce training support, as the country works to address the skills gap in its workforce. The program could also help the thousands of unemployed workers, looking to transition to another career.  Read details HERE.

Apprenticeship is an industry-driven, high-quality career pathway where employers can develop and prepare their future workforce, and individuals can obtain paid work experience, classroom instruction, and a portable, nationally-recognized credential. It includes:

  • Paid Job: Apprentices are paid employees who produce high-quality work while they learn skills that enhance their employers' needs.

  • On-the-Job Learning: Develops skilled workers through structured learning in a work setting.

  • Classroom Learning: Improves job-related skills through education in a classroom setting (virtual or in-person).

  • Mentorship: Provides apprentices with the support of a skilled worker to assist and enhance critical hands-on learning.

  • Credentials: Offers a portable, nationally-recognized credential to be issued at the completion of the program.

As the most knowledgeable employees in your company get closer to retirement age, there is a great need to prepare new individuals to take their place. Registered Apprenticeship allows these experts to pass their own knowledge and skills directly to the apprentice, creating a continual pipeline of qualified workers. Registered Apprenticeship saves both time and money. Apprentices are paid based on the level of skill they’ve attained; as they progress and learn more, their salary will increase accordingly. This promotes loyalty and inspires something to build up to, while developing respect for the company. The majority of apprentices that finish the first year of a Registered Apprenticeship program see the entire program through to the end.

While historically apprenticeships were most commonly tied to craft trades such as electrical, carpentry and plumbing, today there are apprenticeships in a wide variety of career fields, including healthcare information technology.

With increasing emphasis and resources placed on apprenticeship at the federal and state level, this is a workforce recruitment and retention strategy your company should consider. Louisiana’s Registered Apprenticeship Program website is a good place to learn more information, or contact NLEP EVP Angie White (awhite@nlep.org) who can connect you with the right workforce ecosystem partners based on your workforce needs.
 

Louisiana Department of Education Resources to Assist Employees with Childcare

For employees who need assistance with child care during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, a comprehensive list of providers is available from the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) is available here.   If non-traditional hours are needed, you are encouraged to contact the provider as they may be able to work with your schedule. Note that Type III early learning centers can take children of families that qualify for the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) – see below for more information on CCAP.

If you have either a person that cares for children in her home or a person that comes to your house to care for your children, they can become certified as a child care provider with the Department of Education by following 2 easy steps; click here to learn more. The Louisiana Department of Education will pay family home and in-home providers the same rates as Type III early learning centers.

If you are an employee classified as a "critical infrastructure" worker by CISA guidelines, you will also likely qualify for the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP). This program provides financial resources to help pay the cost of child care at Type III early learning centers and certified family home and in-home providers. To apply for CCAP, click here

For more information about childcare resources in Louisiana, click here.

Employees Refusing to Return to Work?

As Louisiana heads toward Phase 2 Reopening on Friday, employers are faced with the situation of workers refusing to return to work.  If you are an employer that has asked an employee to return to work and they refused, the Louisiana Workforce Commission asks that you complete this form.

Unemployment Insurance Policy Changes for Employees

The Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) has released its newest policies amid the COVID-19 outbreak, and more people may be eligible for unemployment insurance under those rules. You MAY be eligible for unemployment insurance, if the following situation applies to you: 

  • If your work hours have been reduced because of lack of work due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

  • If your workplace closes temporarily, and you are not being compensated.

  • If you have been instructed not to go to work, and you are not being paid while at home.

You can file a claim at www.louisianaworks.net/hire or by calling a LWC Claim Center at 866-783-5567. Effective March 17, 2020, LWC Claim Centers have extended hours to 8 a.m.- 7 p.m.

Read Details about Louisiana Workforce Commission COVID Assistance for Employers and Workers>>>

Read Details on Employers Frequently Asked Questions>>>

Child Care Resources

As Louisiana move into Phase 3 Reopening, the lack of child care will prove to be a critical economic and social hurdle with real consequences. The state Department of Education said that only 31 percent of the state's 1,400 publicly licensed centers statewide remained open amid dwindling attendance caused by the virus and parents staying home. Childcare advocates and key business leaders said Louisiana childcare providers have lost $30 million because of the coronavirus pandemic and need more than double that to help restart the economy. 

Prior to COVID-19, quality childcare was already in very short supply, and we now face an even greater shortage. A recent report “Losing Ground,” developed by the Louisiana Policy Institute in collaboration with the LSU’s Public Policy Research Lab (PPRL), shows that the lack of child care costs the state’s economy more than $1.1 billion in employee absences and turnover, and almost $84 million in lost tax revenue.  With schools and many daycares closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, finding safe, reliable childcare will be essential to reopening our economy. Read the Losing Ground report>>>

To address this issue, new solutions have been developed. The Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) is offering multiple resources for addressing the childcare gap faced by many workers as they are called back to work. For employees who need assistance with child care during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, a comprehensive list of providers is available from LDOE is available here>>>.   If you need non-traditional hours, contact your childcare provider who may be able to work with your schedule. Note that Type III early learning centers can take children of families that qualify for the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP). If you are an employee classified as a "critical infrastructure" worker by CISA guidelines, you will also likely qualify for the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP). This program provides financial resources to help pay the cost of child care at Type III early learning centers and certified family home and in-home providers. To apply for CCAP, click here>>>. For more information about childcare resources in Louisiana, click here>>>

If you’re a childcare provider that cares for children in your own home, you can become certified with the Department of Education by following 2 easy steps, click here to learn more. If you’re a parent who has a babysitter caring for your children at your home, the sitter can also become certified through LDOE.  Both family home and in-home providers will then be paid by LDOE at the same rates as Type III early learning centers.

Federal Government

Federal Stimulus Checks: $500 per dependent child

The IRS may still owe you a $500 payment for dependents as part of the stimulus check benefits that began in April.  If the size of the check you received seems smaller than it should, you may need to request a catch-up payment. You have until Sept. 30 to use the IRS' nonfilers tool to submit information on your dependents and correct any errors from the first time around. 

In May, the Treasury and the IRS announced nearly 4 million prepaid debit cards loaded with Economic Impact Payments (EIPs), otherwise known as stimulus payments, were mailed out the week of May 18th. Recipients can make purchases, get cash from in-network ATMs, and transfer funds to their personal bank account without incurring any fees. They can also check their card balance online, by mobile app, or by phone without incurring fees. The EIP Card can be used online, at ATMs, or at any retail location where Visa is accepted. 

The Treasury Department has already delivered $239 billion Economic Impact Payments to Americans by direct deposits, Direct Express card accounts, and by check. The Treasury-sponsored EIP Card is another method to provide money efficiently and securely to eligible recipients and their families. EIP Cards are being distributed to qualified individuals without bank information on file with the IRS, and whose tax return was processed by either the Andover or Austin IRS Service Center.

Direct payments ranging from $1,200 for single filers and heads of household or $2,400 for joint filers, with an additional rebate of $500 per qualifying child will be going out in a few weeks. Recipients must have adjusted gross income (AGI) under $75,000 (single), $150,000 (joint), or $112,500 (heads of household) using 2019 tax return information. Use this Tax Foundation Rebate Calculator to see potentially how much you could be receiving. (When visiting the Tax Foundation webpage, scroll to the bottom for the calculator.) Even Social Security recipients, who aren't required to file tax returns based on their income levels, will receive the stimulus payment.  To learn more, visit the IRS stimulus payments FAQ page>>>

The EIP Card is part of the Treasury's U.S. Debit Card program. Read more about the Economic Impact Payment Card>>>

You can check on the status of your payment using this tool on the IRS website>>>

If you have questions, you can still call (800) 919-9835. The IRS added 3,500 telephone representatives to answer questions. 

New Paid Sick Leave And Expanded Family & Medical Leave Implementation

  • The U.S. The Department of Labor issued new guidance on how American workers and employers will benefit from the protections and relief offered by the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, both part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The department’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) posted a temporary rule issuing regulations pursuant to this new law, effective , April 1, 2020.
     
  • The FFCRA requires employers with fewer than 500 workers to provide their employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. In general, employers must provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave at the regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work due to quarantine or illness or up to 80 hours of paid sick leave at 2/3 the regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because of caregiving. Most employers must also provide up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at 2/3 the employee's regular rate of pay for caregiving. 
    As of April 1st, employers must display the new law on a poster in their workplace. Download here>>
    FAQs>>>
     
  • Guidance on Employer Obligations>>>
  • Guidance on Employee  Rights Employee Info>>> 

  • Guide to Corona Paid Family Leave>>>

Federal Student Aid COVID-19 Response

To provide relief to student loan borrowers during the COVID-19 national emergency, federal student loan borrowers can be placed in an administrative forbearance, which allows you to temporarily stop making your monthly loan payment. Read the borrower Q&As on the website of the Federal Student Aid office to learn more, and contact your loan servicer to find out your specific options.

Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan (MREIDL)

The Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan (MREIDL) provides funds of up to $2 million to help an eligible small business meet its ordinary and necessary operating expenses that it could have met, but is unable to, because an essential employee was called-up to active duty in his or her role as a military reservist. Learn More about Reservists Economic Injury Loans

Who is Hiring 

We will be regularly updating a list of companies that are surge hiring because of COVID-19 impacts. If your company is currently hiring, please email Angie White at awhite@nlep.org. We will be sharing these opportunities on our social media pages. Click on the links below to learn more about these job opportunities:

Job Boards:

Other Community Resources

Webinars

Greater Shreveport- Bossier Chamber Webinar

Monday, September 14 at 1 PM

State Fire Marshall, Chief Browning will provide an update on the new Phase 3 guidelines during the  webinar and answer your questions. 

Register: http://shreveportchamber.org/webinar.html


COVID-19 Studies & Surveys

North Louisiana businesses report a major disruptions to their operations.  See survey results>>>