Time to apply for state small business grant money is running out

Time is running out for hurricane affected small businesses to apply for a grant up to 20 thousand dollars. Loan money is also available from the State Department of Economic Development. KPLC's Laila Morcos talks to a local business owner who says without the loan or grant money, she may have trouble paying off the big debt she's incurred after Hurricane Rita.

After Hurricane Rita, Cajun Café owner Kelly Chapman knew her business was destroyed. "It was a complete loss."

So she got busy helping recovery workers. "We cooked them meals, cleaned their trailers." Kelly made a little money and was able to reopen, but she still faced a pile of debt because of expenses.

"We had no insurance." But help is available in the way of grants and loans from the State Department of Economic Development for businesses affected by Rita.

"All small businesses that have a 30 percent decline in revenue after the storm are potentially eligible to apply for a 20-thousand dollar grant, that's free money, or a 250-thousand dollar loan," says Kathy Denison-Wicke.  She's the grant and loan program director and says this program is different that the SBA and bridge loans.

"This is suppose to be a program to truly take care of the devastated small businesses that have waited a year and 3 or 4 months to receive some sort of assistance."

Businesses must have under 50 employees, sustained a 30% loss in revenue and must sell a tangible good.  But requirements are a little different in different parishes. "Still, come in and let our business counselors go through the application process."

Kelly has applied with hopes of getting relief paying her debt and maybe expand a little. Without the money she says, "I'm not sure I could. I don't think it would be possible."

If approved, Kelly should see some of that grant and loan money in a few weeks.   The deadline to apply for the 20 - thousand dollar grant is tomorrow at 5:00 PM.

To apply, go to the department office at 3501 5th avenue, suite B.

You still have time to apply for the 250-thousand dollar loan program. The deadline for that isn't until March.