If you have a small business and haven't looked to our state government for help during the pandemic, you may want to reconsider.

Louisiana State Treasurer John Schroder says plenty of dollars still remain to help small businesses hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Schroder's office launched the Main Street Recovery Program on July 28. The program put $275 million from the federal CARES Act toward one-time grants, but $210 million remains unspent.

"I didn't think it would be this hard to give away money," Schroder said.

He blames the low turnout on skepticism, especially among those who have sought government help in the past but were turned down.

“Small business isn’t used to having handouts,” he said. “This isn’t a handout. This is your money. You’ve been paying your taxes for years.”

To be eligible for a grant, businesses must be owned by a Louisiana resident, have fewer than 50 workers and a physical location open to the public. Applicants must have filed tax returns in 2018, 2019 or plan to file in 2020.

A single business can receive up to $15,000 in grant money, so long as it incurred the amount in virus-related expenses.

According to LouisianaMainStreet.com, the average award is $9,570.

Nearly $15 million so far has gone toward businesses owned by women, minorities and veterans. The state treasury intends to award $40 million to these groups by September 25.

The deadline to apply for the Louisiana Main Street Recovery Program is November 4, 2020.

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