La. ‘Bridge Loan’ Program for Businesses Tapped Out – Again

April 3, 2006

A state-created loan program for Louisiana businesses damaged by the hurricanes and waiting for government help, insurance dollars or other assistance again has run out of cash, despite adding another $30 million to the pool less than three weeks ago, the Associated Press reported.

The so-called “bridge loan” program gave out another 326 loans, averaging $88,000 each, the state economic development department announced.

“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,” Economic Development Secretary Michael Olivier said in a news release.

A similar $10 million pool of bridge loan dollars offered in October also ran out in less than a month, with smaller loans available to the 407 businesses that received them.

The interest on the loans is forgiven if the businesses move back to the hurricane-damaged areas.

Louisiana officials are hoping to use federal block grant money to offer more of the loans, but the proposal needs approval from state lawmakers and federal officials.

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