State Treasurer John Schroder says they’re relaxing some application rules for the Main Street Recovery Program with the aim of getting more businesses to sign up for relief grants worth up to 15,000 dollars.

Schroder says for the first 21 days of the program only businesses who didn’t get previous federal pandemic aid could apply with a “quick-relief” option. That’s not the case anymore.

“We are going to offer that to any business and we are going to allow hem to submit their tax return versus sending receipts, which has been cumbersome with the technology,” says Schroder.

The quick-relief option takes about 20 minutes to file versus sending receipts which Schroder says was about a 2-hour process.

Over 21,000 applications have been filed so far but Schroder says they haven’t received as many as they thought they would. He suspects it’s partly due to a misunderstanding.

“People believe that you have to pay this back,” says Schroder. “You do not have to pay this back, you could literally take this money and go on vacation no one is going to check to see how you spent this money,” says Schroder.

Schroder encourages any business with fewer than 50 employees to apply for the pandemic relief grants.

Over 900 grants have been paid out so far for an average of about 3,800 dollars each, leaving the program with another 271.5 million dollars still to distribute. Schroder expects that pace to pick up.

“We have over 21,000 applications so it has taken some time, and 91 percent of the applications need some kind of follow-up. It’s been very labor intense,” says Schroder.

(Story written by Matt Doyle/Louisiana Radio Network)