Traffic problems defy quick solutions _lowres

Congestion on the Mississippi River Bridge connecting East and West Baton Rouge Parishes.

More than $1 billion of Paycheck Protection Program loans flowed to organizations, mostly businesses, in the Baton Rouge metro area across 11,300 total loans. 

About 1,600 loans of $150,000 or greater were allocated to organizations in the Baton Rouge metro, according to an analysis by the Baton Rouge Area Chamber. Another 9,715 businesses were approved for loans under $150,000 totaling $342 million. 

The federal loans are forgivable and essentially become a grant if the money is spent on eligible expenses, such as rent and payroll. In the Baton Rouge metro, about 128,000 jobs were supported by the loans, records show. 

Loans under $150,000 did not include the name of the company but did provide demographic information, such as race, when the answer was provided by the bank or credit union. About 71% of the paycheck protection program loans in Baton Rouge under $150,000 went to white business owners. About 15% of those loans were underwritten for Black business owners and 11% were for Asian American companies. 

For loans greater than $150,000 about 12% were approved for minority-owned organizations, which includes 5% for Black-owned companies. 

The initial deadline for the paycheck protection program loans expired on June 30, but has since been extended to Aug. 8. The loan is expected to cover payroll and other expenses for about 2½ months. There is more than $130 billion left in the federal program's pot. 

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