Nearly $1M allocated for local businesses

Published 12:09 am Saturday, May 14, 2016

14 St. John Parish applicants vie for Hurricane Isaac recovery money

LAPLACE — More than a dozen St. John the Baptist Parish businesses are one step closer to sharing in approximately $1 million of Hurricane Isaac recovery money.

The parish received 31 applications following a September push of the St. John the Baptist Parish Small Business Grant and Loan Program promoting recovery assistance.

St. John Communications Director Baileigh Rebowe Helm said 14 businesses have been approved; however, the state still has to review the documents and the value of each entity’s award is subject to change.

“The program will facilitate recovery for businesses hardest hit by the storm and assist with expanding economic opportunities so that these businesses can continue providing services to our community,” Helm said. “Small businesses are an integral part of what makes St. John a great place to live and work, and it is vital that we provide every avenue we can to support them and all of our residents as we continue to face severe weather events and disasters beyond our control.”

Helm said the Parish could not reveal the businesses approved because each is still undergoing the state approval process.

Hurricane Isaac struck in August 2012, damaging more than 7,000 homes and businesses in St. John the Baptist Parish.

Businesses, including for-profit operations and earned income generators within non-profit organizations, were eligible to apply. Town halls were staged in LaPlace and Edgard to answer questions from the community.

Approved applicants have met all of the criteria including existing during Hurricane Isaac, directly suffering from the effects of the storm and proving documented physical and financial losses.

The Parish said $950,000 would be awarded to assist with damages from the storm, with each award comprising 20 percent grant and 80 percent loan. The low-interest loans are to be repaid over a standard term of five years. For the first two years of the terms, the annual interest rate is 1 percent before moving to 4 percent for the remainder of the terms.

Helm said the grant and loan program’s hiring requirement was removed from the program. In September it was stated award recipients were required to hire at least one full time employee within a year of funding for every $60,000 of funding.

“While the Parish President, our staff and Council are working on long-term solutions, in the interim we remain focused on exhausting every funding source and opportunity to help those recover stronger than before,” Helm said.

E & L Construction owners Lester Mitchell and Eric Bourgeois reviewed the terms and conditions last week with Parish administrators and loan liaison South Central Planning & Development before moving to approve funding.

The small business loans are scheduled for distribution this month.

Approved applicants should expect to be contacted by an administrator for a thorough review of paperwork before funding is dispersed.

To speak with someone regarding the program or to provide contact information for future updates, contact the Grants Department at 985-652-9569.