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An aerial view of the Baton Rouge metro area. 

Tens of thousands of small businesses that received federal paycheck protection forgivable loans in the past few months can now apply for Louisiana Main Street program grants for the first time.

More than 70,000 businesses across Louisiana were approved for $7.3 billion through the federal government's Paycheck Protection Program this year and have been waiting in line for a chance at the state grant.

The first round of Main Street grants were available to small businesses that did not receive any federal support; now 21 days later the program has changed.

Business owners can apply for quick relief up to $5,000 for eligible small businesses that have received $1,000 or less in federal assistance. Or they can seek up to $15,000 for itemized expense reimbursement. Business owners who hire a certified public accountant or financial professional to fill out the application can apply for reimbursement up to $500 each.

The Main Street recovery program has more than 16,000 completed applications in the system and another 20,000 applications in the pipeline. Checks are expected to be mailed in mid-August. 

"Many of them have already applied," said state Treasurer John Schroder. "Those who haven't applied should do so immediately."

There is a total of $275 million in the state program. About $40 million of that is set aside for minority-, veteran- and women-owned businesses during the first 60 days of the program. 

Small business owners must have receipts for all the expenses they are seeking reimbursement for through the program. Rent, insurance, utilities, payroll, inventory replacement, teleworking equipment, sanitizers, cleaning supplies and equipment needed to set up social distancing are all eligible expenses. About the only thing that can’t be claimed is lost revenue.

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Grants are available to all businesses that were domiciled in Louisiana as of March 1, have fewer than 50 employees, are at least 50% owned by a Louisiana resident, and filed state income taxes in 2018, 2019 or plan on filing in 2020.

Home-based businesses and franchisees are eligible, as are sole proprietorships, but the business must have a physical location that is open to customers and employees.

Business can apply at louisianamainstreet.com

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Staff reporter Tim Boone contributed to this story.

Email Kristen Mosbrucker at kmosbrucker@theadvocate.com.