Governor John Bel Edwards has signed the Republican-crafted plan yesterday to spend $300 million in federal coronavirus aid to help small businesses recover from the outbreak.

The money comes directly from federal aid allocated to Louisiana by Congress to respond to the COVID-19 disease.

Edwards wanted to send the $811 million of federal assistance to local government agencies -- such as city councils, parish police juries, sheriffs' offices and more -- to reimburse them for virus-related expenses. However, Republican lawmakers chose to divvy up the money differently.

They decided to use $300 million for small business grants while using the remaining $511 million for municipalities.

State Treasurer John Schroder will be in charge of managing the business grant program. He is required to submit a plan to lawmakers this week for distributing the grants.

To be eligible, businesses must be located in Louisiana. They can't have had more than 50 full-time workers as of March 1, before Louisiana had its first case of COVID-19. They can't be a subsidiary of or owned by a larger company with more than 50-full time employees. And they must show an interruption in operations because of the virus.

Of the $300 million allocated to the program, $40 million is guaranteed to be spent on grants to assist minority-owned, women-owned and veteran-owned businesses.

This federal aid comes from $1.8 billion in direct congressional relief that Louisiana received to overcome COVID-19. Most of that money is being used to fill state budget shortfalls amid the pandemic.

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