Louisiana Governor Blanco announced that the $30 million Extended Bridge Loan program for small businesses affected by last year's hurricanes has been depleted in less than three weeks. The program has authorized 326 loans, with loan amounts averaging approximately $88,000 each. The program was designed to provide cash infusions for businesses awaiting insurance payments or other financial assistance.
"Extended Bridge Loans are helping small businesses across South Louisiana rebuild, re-hire and rejuvenate their operations," said Governor Blanco. "Each business that we help sustain adds to South Louisiana's recovery and the overall economic health of the entire state."
Initiated by Louisiana Economic Development (LED), the program was administered through the Louisiana Public Facilities Authority (LPFA) and private banks. "We anticipated that the urgent need for funds would quickly deplete the available pool. This is another verification of our small businesses' critical need for access to capital," said LED Secretary Michael J. Olivier.
By using community banks to process the loans, the state was able to expedite the timetable for application, authorization and receipt of funds.
"The Louisiana Extended Bridge Loan program accomplished its goal, which was to get cash quickly in the hands of small Louisiana businesses," said James W. Parks, II, president and CEO of LPFA. "The program's success is testimony to what can be accomplished when state government, private banks and an organization such as LPFA join forces
. The participating banks did an outstanding job of promptly processing loan applications."
Robert T. Taylor, senior vice president and director of government relations for the Louisiana Bankers Association added, "Bankers were brought in on the front end of the program's development, and together with LED created an efficient way to deliver loans to small businesses. This is an example of what can be accomplished when the desire is there to be successful."
The Extended Bridge Loans are the second phase of a program initiated in October 2005. That loan pool was also depleted in less than one month. LED expects to re-fund the program as loans are repaid and as the state receives the additional Community Development Block Grant money promised by the federal government and dedicated by the Louisiana Recovery Authority for this purpose.