Bailout legislation is making its way in Congress to help small businesses hang on

The announcement about the closure of K-Paul’s, the storied restaurant started by famed Cajun chef Paul Prudhomme, and the word from Tipitina’s that it may not survive the fall are two examples of New Orleans culture and business go hand-in-hand.

“In New Orleans particularly the economy and the culture are tightly interwoven. So when a business like K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen shutters its doors, we not just losing a business, we’re losing a piece of our culture,” says Michael Hecht, President of Greater New Orleans, Incorporated (GNO, Inc.), the economic development agency for the region.

Hecht says what’s needed is specialized loans and lifelines aimed at certain businesses and industries that are unique to New Orleans.

“We need to be thinking about programs like extending the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) to a new piece of legislation called the Restaurants Act, to other pieces like the Restart Act which would help the music industry,” Hecht says. “To try and help these businesses which have been shuttered through absolutely no fault of their own to make it through.”

Hecht says the importance of new legislation to pump rescue funds into companies is more imperative than ever. He explains the kind of tight spot many companies large and small, single operator or family run are in, “Businesses in general tend to have fewer cash reserves, because as the coronavirus extends, there’s going to be a greater squeeze on liquidity,” He explains. “Some businesses particularly those that have exhausted PPP funds are just going to run out of money.”

Hecht points to a number of new legislative bills on both sides of the house and senate that could provide the needed support if the two sides come together to get it done.

“The Restaurant’s Act obviously aimed at food establishments. There’s the Restart Act which is for small businesses that would be particularly important for the music industry. Then there’s one called the CERTS Act, Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services,” Hecht says. All three of these proposed bills would greatly help the small operators in the New Orleans region.

“We are going to be able to see more specialized assistance coming through Congress now. Both of them want to include businesses that have been most severely impacted by the government mandated, but required, coronavirus shutdown.”

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