The American Rescue Plan includes initiatives to help small employers, including expanded COVID-19 vaccine tax credits and a streamlined PPP forgiveness portal.


Moderator: Jeanette Mulvey, Executive Director, Content Strategy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Featured Guests: Neil Bradley, Executive VP and Chief Policy Officer, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Tom West, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Tax Policy, U.S. Treasury Department

In July 2021, the Biden Administration implemented changes to its COVID-19 relief programs designed to help small businesses recover from the impact of the pandemic. One significant change is the expansion of an existing COVID-19 vaccine tax credit where employers can be reimbursed for paid time off given to employees who miss work for vaccine-related reasons, including receiving and recovering from the vaccine, accompanying a family member to get vaccinated or taking care of a recovering family member. The Small Business Administration (SBA) also streamlines loan forgiveness through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

In a recent CO— Small Business Update, Tom West, deputy assistant secretary at the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Tax Policy and Neil Bradley, EVP and chief policy officer at U.S. Chamber of Commerce, shared insights on these new COVID-19 vaccine tax credit expansions and other relief programs for small employers.

The COVID-19 Vaccine Tax Credit Now Covers Time Off Taken by Employees to Care for Families

In March 2020, the CARES Act allowed businesses that provided COVID-19-related time off to employees to care for themselves or a family member to claim a tax credit. The Biden Administration’s American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of March 2021 expanded this paid leave credit to cover vaccine-related time off.

“Under the American Rescue Plan, the expanded paid leave credit is available for small employers, generally [meaning] employers with 500 or fewer employees,” explained West. “Those smaller and medium-sized businesses are eligible for this tax credit for time that they give employees to recover from COVID. [It also covers] employees who are going to get vaccinated, or who get vaccinated and have some after-effects,” continued West.

“The credit means that for up to 80 hours of time that you give an employee if the employee is sick or getting vaccinated, the employer can recover dollar for dollar up to $500 per day,” West continued. “So that's up to $5,000 that an employer can get in tax credits for giving their employee time off for one of those specified reasons. The expansion that the administration put out last week was to cover… if you are taking a family member, a child, somebody else who lives in your household to get a vaccination. That is now a category for which an employer can give you paid time off and get a tax credit.”

Response to Coronavirus

Central Louisiana Regional Chamber of Commerce COVID-19 Business Resource Information

Businesses are concerned about their long term viability, as well as the health and wellbeing of their employees and customers. The Central LA Regional Chamber of Commerce is working with partner organizations, community leaders, and state and federal officials to provide information, links and direct services to chamber members and the business community during the current state of emergency.

The Chamber office located at 1118 Third Street in Alexandria is closed in accordance with the Stay-at-Home order, but is fully operational with staffers working from home.

If you are a business in need of assistance, please call or email us.

Governmental Relations, Policy, Strategy, State and Federal Legislation

Small Business Government Assistance Information

U.S. Chamber Connection

Deborah Randolph, President, Central LA Regional Chamber of Commerce

318-441-3420, drandolph@cenlachamber.org

Membership/Event Information, Requests to Share Information with Chamber Members

Cindy Cespiva, Membership/Events Director

318-442-6671, ccespiva@cenlachamber.org


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Is Your Business Hiring? Virtual Career Fair July 23, and August 12, 2020.

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Companies are invited to the Rapides Parish Schools Senior Job Fair

September Edition of the CENLA Economic Dashboard Released

The Louisiana State University of Alexandria College of Business releases its September 2021 issue of the CENLA Economic Dashboard. “New business growth and record employment are signs of a strengthening economy in the central Louisiana,” says Dr. Randall Dupont, Dean of the LSUA College of Business.

New business applications in Rapides in 2020 grew 30% over 2019, totaling 1,488 applications according to Census Bureau data, marking the highest number of new business applications in Rapides since 2005. However, not all business applications result in business formation, according to Dupont. “That’s why support organizations like the Small Business Development Center, hosted by LSUA and located at the Central Louisiana Regional Chamber of Commerce, are much needed,” Dupont added. “It takes six to 12 months of working with an entrepreneur in the startup phase to adequately form a business,” says Evelyn Jones, SBDC business consultant. The trend in business application in Rapides is reflected statewide. Through August of this year, the number of new business applications in Louisiana grew 27% over 2020 and 90% over 2019. Year-to-date, new businesses established in Rapides are up 36% over 2020.

While the recent wave of Covid-19 cases dominates the news, the economic impact has not yet shown up in consumer spending, says Dupont. The decline in air passenger traffic is the most visible sign but has been minimal through August. Hotel occupancy, consumer spending, and gasoline sales data reflect activity from July and earlier and continue to show little sign of weakening as the number of cases increased in July.

The labor market in the Alexandria metro area continues to tighten with the employment level reaching new highs recently. Employment in the Alexandria MSA in July 2021 reached the highest level in five years with 61,950 employed, an increase of 1,295 over June. Just 14 months earlier, Alexandria bottomed at a pandemic low of 55,588 employed. Strong employment growth caused the unemployment rate in Cenla to fall to 5.4% in July compared to 6.3% for the state. Rapides reported a 4.3% unemployment rate, well below the state and Cenla rates. Hiring pressures tightened again in the Alexandria MSA and statewide. Currently, there are two job openings for every unemployed in Alexandria, while the state average is nearing one opening for every unemployed.

The CENLA Economic Dashboard is a service of the LSUA College of Business to help business and community leaders monitor the economic pulse of central Louisiana.

To view the September 2021 CENLA Economic Dashboard, click here.


Find a list of city services as well as listings of open businesses and hours of operation.

Find COVID-19 Information pertaining to travel in the Central Louisiana area.

Find COVID-19 Information pertaining to airport and flight status at (AEX) Alexandria International Airport.

The City of Pineville resources and information.

The Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance

BAS - Business Acceleration System offering small business coaching

KD will continue updates our website to communicate relevant information from the Economic Development Administration and other agencies on economic recovery opportunities, resources, and activities.

Louisiana 211 is partnering with the Louisiana Department of Health to ensure citizens can access to the most current information available for Coronavirus (COVIDー19).

United Ways throughout Louisiana proudly support the Louisiana 211 Statewide Network.

The U.S. Chamber is working closely with the White House, U.S. government agencies, and foreign government officials to inform and equip businesses with the most important and up-to-date information to prevent the spread of the virus and prepare businesses for the near and long-term impact.

LED is working with all levels of government to safeguard Louisiana businesses in terms of economic and physical safety issues related to COVID-19. 

Upcoming Webinars

Shopify will host weekly webinars for LA small business owners. You can also access previously recorded webinars at any time—learn what you want, when you want to! We will post information here about upcoming webinars.

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Are you looking for a career with a leading manufacturer of consumer products?

The Central Louisiana Regional Chamber of Commerce has compiled the following list of businesses currently hiring for a variety of full-time and part-time positions due to the increased demand for goods and services.

Please let us know if your business is hiring by sending an email to Cindy Cespiva at ccespiva@cenlachamber.org. Please include the company name, a brief description of the open position or positions and instructions on how to apply.

Posted 7/6/2929

Posted 4/29/2020

  • Payne, Mooore & Herrington, LLP CPA firm is accepting resumes to fill two full-time Staff Accountant positions. Click Here

Posted 4/17/2020

Posted 4/10/2020

  • Remedy Staffing Alexandria, Position Openings: Production Machine Operators, Warehouse/Production Forklift Operators, General Laborers, apply at www.remedystaffing.com or call 318-449-WORK(9675)

Posted 4/8/2020

  • Family Care Services, Position Opening: Direct Care Staff, apply in person at 5129 Highway 28 East, Pineville

Posted 4/3/2020

  • RoyOMartin, Position Openings: Production Team Member & Construction Millwright, https://royomartin.com/people/careers/?
  • Gulf Coast Social Services, Position Opening: Caregiver/Direct Service Worker, apply at www.gcssla.org or call (318)448-1801
  • Pecan Grove Training Center, Position Opening: LPNs for 10p-6a, 2p-10p, and weekend doubles, call Director of Nursing at (318) 448-0291
  • Perforex LLC, Position Opening: Class A CDL Truck Driver, call (318) 445-6799
  • Leading Health Care of Louisiana, Position Opening: Direct Support Worker, apply at https://www.Lhcla.com
  • ProTemp Staffing Solutions, Position Opening: Manufacturing, apply at 1150 Expressway Drive Suite 102, Pineville, LA
  • DIS-TRAN Overhead Solutions, Position Opening: Temporary at Treatment Facility, apply at http://distran.com
Please note that there may be additional companies hiring. Anyone looking for work, should search job sites such as the Business & Career Solutions Center office in the parish in which you are searching for a job.

DOL Outlines Coronavirus Relief Law’s Paid Leave Requirements

SBA Loan Information - COVID-19 Disaster

LDR extends state income tax deadline due to coronavirus public health emergency

Area Businesses Hiring


Louisiana Launches E-Commerce Initiative for Small Businesses

U.S. Chamber Foundation’s Save Small Business Fund offers grants to qualifying businesses employing between 3 and 20 people

Updated: April 16, 2020
The U.S. Chamber has launched a Save Small Business Initiative to address the immediate needs of the small business community, mitigate closures and job losses, and mobilize support for long-term recovery in the wake of the economic destruction of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The U.S. Chamber Foundation is supporting the governmental supplemental financial assistance by launching the Save Small Business Fund. Seeded by contributions from corporate and philanthropic partners, the U.S. Chamber Foundation will be providing $5,000 supplemental grants to small employers in economically vulnerable communities.
Applications for the Save Small Business Grant Fund will open this Monday, April 20, 2020, at 2:00 p.m. There are several eligibility requirements which can be found here along with a space to enter your email address so as to be notified when the application process begins.
Please call the Central LA Chamber at 318-442-6671 with questions or for assistance with this form. The application form goes live on Monday, April 20, 2020 at 2:00 p.m.

Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19

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