Economic recovery post-COVID-19 provides opportunities
In the midst of what may be a potentially defining moment in our economic history, Oklahoma City has begun reopening and re-imagining a new economic reality after the instability caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
One of the main jump-start efforts was an aid program designed to quickly put funding into the hands of small business owners thanks to a partnership between the City of Oklahoma City, Greater Oklahoma City Chamber and the Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City.
The Oklahoma City Small Business Continuity Program drew over 600 applications in an 11-day window. The plan is designed to provide $5.5 million in funding and technical assistance by using general obligation bonds included in the Economic and Community Development Program component of the Better Streets, Safer City program.
“We intend to provide support for small, Oklahoma City businesses, so our review process has made sure the funds are reserved for them,” said Cathy O’Connor, president and CEO of the Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City.
Jeff Seymour, executive vice president of economic development for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, was among committee members asked to assist by the City as it moves through the assessment and recovery process post-COVID-19.
“The high number of applicants for the Small Business Continuity Program is good news,” Seymour said. “We hope to help businesses re-emerge and quickly retool and recalibrate their product line to position themselves for both the business and social changes being created by the COVID-19 pandemic."
A disbursement committee will make the final award determination, with cash payments and loan disbursements expected to begin May 8. An internal team of 18 reviewers has been reviewing applications for compliance with requirements. The committee making funding decisions will rank the qualifying applications based on need. Reviewers determined about 100 of the applications did not meet eligibility requirements, in many cases because they were not located within Oklahoma City limits.
As the community continues to grapple with how to respond effectively and appropriately to the economic crisis, local leaders have constructed a three-phase plan as to how businesses transition to a re-opening plan.
Businesses should be aware of the guidelines provided by the Oklahoma City-County Health Department when considering re-opening as our community enters “Phase 1.” The proclamation takes effect May 1. Its provisions will be re-evaluated no later than May 15 before a decision will be made to enter Phase 2.
The Chamber continues to engage its membership by sharing meaningful information on how Oklahoma City companies are responding to the pandemic through quick video interviews with community leaders, virtual town hall meetings, weekly webinars, informative surveys, and updating event schedules and formats through September.