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The Advocate – BY TIMOTHY BOONE | STAFF WRITER PUBLISHED JUL 27, 2020 AT 2:38 PM | UPDATED JUL 27, 2020 AT 3:54 PM

The Main Street Recovery grant program, which allows small businesses to get reimbursements of up to $15,000 for expenses they incurred as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, will be launched Tuesday. State Treasurer John Schroder said he’s expecting a “pretty big turnout” on the first day at louisianamainstreet.com.

The Main Street Recovery grant program, which allows small businesses to get reimbursements of up to $15,000 for expenses they incurred as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, will be launched Tuesday.

State Treasurer John Schroder said he’s expecting a “pretty big turnout” on the first day at louisianamainstreet.com. So far, about 14,000 people have signed up for email notifications about the program and about 9,500 have taken a quiz to determine if they are eligible for the funds, he said. 

“Mississippi had about 15,000 applicants on the first day for their program, and we expect to be in that same range,” he said.

Because Main Street Recovery is a reimbursement program, the most important thing for small-business owners is that they have the receipts for all expenses they are claiming. “You have to scan documents and put them in with your application,” Schroder said. “Your application will be held up until you show proof of expenses.”

Businesses that were forced to close or otherwise affected pandemic can claim reimbursements for a range of expenses incurred since March 1. Rent, insurance, utilities, payroll, inventory replacement, teleworking equipment, sanitizers, cleaning supplies and equipment needed to set up social distancing are all eligible expenses. About the only thing that can’t be claimed is lost revenue.

The program was established by Republican lawmakers in the recently concluded special session. It set aside $275 million to help small businesses that didn’t receive assistance from other relief programs established as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, such as the federal Paycheck Protection Program, or from their insurance company.

The first 21 days after the launch, the program will only be open to businesses that haven’t received any funds from insurers or government programs. The goal is to pay out $40 million in the first two months of the program to businesses that are owned by women, minorities or veterans.

After 21 days, the program will be opened to all businesses that were domiciled in Louisiana as of March 1, have fewer than 50 employees, are at least 50% owned by a Louisiana resident, and filed state income taxes in 2018, 2019 or plan on filing in 2020. Home-based businesses and franchisees are eligible, as are sole proprietorships, but the business must have a physical location that is open to customers and employees.

Along with the website, the Treasurer’s office has set up a toll-free number at (888) 795-4947 for business owners with any questions. The phone number will be in operation from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.