Agency holding meeting: South Central Planning & Development Commission: Hurricane Recovery Initiative
Location: Panorama Music House
Documenter: Carl M. Ambrose, Jr.
Date: March 9, 2023
A small group of local development leaders and planners gathered for a meeting about the Restore Louisiana Small Business Loan Program.
Disclaimer: The author was invited to this gathering as a member of the Board of Directors for the Lake Charles Downtown Business Association. The event was invite-only.
A small group gathered for a lunchtime presentation from the South Central Planning Development Commission (SCPDC), initiated by the city of Lake Charles. The purpose was to introduce a new loan program, the Restore Louisiana Small Business Loan Program, and bring together representatives from around the area, with city planners and representatives from the Downtown Business Association, Downtown Development Authority, and the Historic Preservation Society.
The meeting was hosted in the speakeasy area in the back of the Panorama Music Exchange, located in the Panorama Music House. It was an informal get-together over lunch to discuss the coming launch of their initiative, the Restore Louisiana Small Business Loan Program. Through the South Central Planning & Development Commission, the program is funded through the Community Block Grant Disaster Recovery Program (CDBG-DR) from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. According to Curole, the SCPDC has been awarded $37,500,000 to assist small business owners impacted by Hurricanes Laura and Delta.
The hurricanes, floods, ice storms, and the pandemic have impacted small businesses throughout this region. In addition, the widespread damage and problems with insurance companies have been compounded by inflation, affecting every aspect of the recovery.
How the program works
The program’s stated purpose is “to aid in the recovery of small businesses affected by Hurricane Laura and/or Hurricane Delta and located in eligible areas.”
The eligible parishes are Acadia (70526, 70578), Allen, Beauregard, Caddo, Calcasieu, Cameron, Jefferson Davis, Lafayette, Natchitoches, Ouachita, Rapides, St. Landry (70570), St. Martin (70517), Vermillion (70510), Vernon (71446). In some parishes, only eligible zip codes can apply.
Under the program, the funds can be used for day-to-day operations such as monthly rent or mortgage payments, monthly wages, monthly utility payments, inventory, and any moveable equipment necessary for the recovery of the impacted business.
The terms of the loan are straightforward. These are 0% interest loans, with no payments for 6 months, a seven-year loan term, and loan amounts from $10,000-$150,000. In addition, there are no closing or application fees and 40% loan forgiveness provided the borrowers comply with post-closing program requirements; 40% of the loan may be forgiven when 60% of the principal is repaid.
To qualify for the program, you have had to have had at least $10,000 in physical damages due to the Hurricanes or a loss of 20% of your annual revenue. Your business must be located in the parish impacted by Hurricane Laura or Delta. You must have at least one full-time employee, including oneself, but at most 50 full-time employees. An employee who works at least 35 hrs a week is a full-time employee. You must also prove that your gross annual revenue was at least $25,000 before the storm. The last requirements have to do with operational status. The business had to have been operating at the time of Hurricane Laura or Delta, and you are currently operating or can demonstrate the ability to reopen.
The SCPDC has other loan options with different terms and interest rates of around 4%. The program is scheduled to launch on May 1, 2023.
You get more information and find an application by going to the website, www.SCPDC.org
The SCPDC representatives, Cullen Curole, J.D. of counsel, Thomas K. Watkins, Jr. J.D., and Assistant Field Manager Dane Bergeron, all spoke of the opportunity to help small businesses rebound from the events of the last couple of years. “We are here to help with the recovery efforts of small businesses and over them the resources that can help to stabilize and help grow small businesses,” Curole said.
Mr. Watkins, the regional representative, spoke about his role and that the area offices, covering multiple parishes, would be up and operational by the launch date, if not before. The other representative, Mr. Dane Bergeron, this areas field representative, said that he was ready to help the area’s small businesses and was available for any questions, and would meet with groups to further discuss the program.
The group outlined the program and its components and some of the partnerships they will be forming to push this program forward, such as IMCAL, and will have office space in the SEED Center sometime within the next month.