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Quick hits: Louisiana news briefs for Tuesday, July 28

The Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge, La.

Small business grant program begins taking applications

The $275 million Louisiana Main Street Recovery Program began taking applications Tuesday.

The program offers grants of up to $15,000 to reimburse business owners for interruption, disruption, unplanned expenses, or extraordinary costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic or the public health restrictions put in place by state or local government officials. Companies must be based in Louisiana and have 50 or fewer employees to be eligible. For the first 21 days the program is reserved for companies that haven’t received aid from other sources such as insurance payouts or the federal Paycheck Protection Program.

Lawmakers created the program with money from the federal CARES Act. Officials expect the program to run out of money before it runs out of applicants.

Bars face license suspension for violating governor’s public health order

The Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control says four businesses are facing 30-day bar permit suspensions for “excessive and/or repeated non-compliance with Gov. John Bel Edwards’ emergency order aimed at mitigating the spread of COVID-19.”

Sand Dollar Tiki Bar in Grand Isle, Frosty Factory in Lake Charles, Pelican Pub in Gonzales and Wo-de’s Chill Spot in Harvey are accused of violations that include serving drinks on-premise despite the state order closing bars. Hearings are scheduled for Aug. 5 and Aug. 6, officials say.

Public health officials say bars are hot spots for coronavirus transmission and were closed as part of the effort to control Louisiana’s recent spike of cases. Attorney General Jeff Landry has called the order unconstitutional, and three business owners have sued to overturn it.

San Francisco software firm moving headquarters to Lafayette

SchoolMint, an education software company, is consolidating its U.S. operations in Lafayette, state and company officials announced.

The company already has a presence in south Louisiana, having purchased Lafayette-based Smart Choice Technologies last year. SchoolMint will create 178 new direct jobs with an average annual salary of more than $74,200 and retain 13 jobs at its existing Lafayette office, officials said.

State and local officials began discussing the project with company leaders in March. SchoolMint will get an incentive package that includes a $900,000 Digital Interactive Media and Software Development tax credit and a $1 million performance-based grant for corporate relocation expenses. The company also is expected to utilize Louisiana’s Quality Jobs Program and FastStart worker training program and will be eligible for up to $100,000 per year for 10 years if it meets capital investment and payroll targets, officials said.

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