SBCP continues to distribute aid for OKC businesses
The third and latest funding rollout by the Oklahoma City Council is designed for minority-owned businesses to share in a pool of $2.75 million for pandemic relief funds through the CARES Act.
The minority-owned relief program is part of Oklahoma City’s historic Small Business Continuity Program (SBCP) as business owners and non-profits continue to take advantage of available COVID-19 disaster relief funds.
The SBCP’s framework was developed in a partnership between the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, the Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City, and the City.
The second rollout of funding began Aug. 4 with 347 of the 586 applications have been approved so far, according to Joanna McSpadden, City of Oklahoma City economic development program manager.
“We’ve heard from several businesses how this funding has helped them stay afloat and weather the storm,” McSpadden said. “I believe those that were funded had positive feedback. A lot of the businesses we’ve helped have been small, only four or five employees. Others have been minority-owned and women-owned businesses that are left out of funding equations.”
Funding for the second round of the Small Business Continuity program was possible through $12 million approved through CARES Act allocation. In the first round of funding 324, businesses shared in $6 million funded through the city’s economic development bond funding mechanism.
McSpadden said her team has had to be creative in their awards and because each applicant is so different.
“Oftentimes, we have to help construct financial records because of size -- some businesses never had the need. It is not a cookie-cutter method awarding the funds,” McSpadden said. “It requires us to be more creative for the method of review to ensure that those who would qualify have the necessary paperwork required.”
Year Opened: 2017
Number of Employees 5
“I really can’t express enough how much we appreciate the City for its support as well as our customers who have stuck with us when there are so many larger resources. It was a financial lifeline for us during a very difficult time, an invaluable resource to position us for growth past this pandemic and tremendous emotional support by knowing that our city was fighting for us and alongside us.
We were awarded both a cash grant to assist with payroll and a technology assistance grant to help us develop our e-commerce website.
The technology assistance program opened up an entirely new avenue of business for us by allowing us to reach and serve our customers that either don’t live in Oklahoma or that live here but prefer an online shopping experience.
We have gone from a landing page with a handful of items to a full-service e-commerce platform with almost 3,000 products that are available for shipping, curbside pickup or local delivery.
From our local regulars to our nationwide customers that had shopped in-store with us while traveling through Oklahoma City, we continue to see exponential growth month over month in e-commerce sales since our first order this spring.
We were able to maintain somewhat normal hours throughout the most difficult period and retain our incredibly valuable members of our team so that as we emerged to this new normal we still have our most talented individuals ready to meet our customers’ needs, which is especially important with the Christmas season.
We are so grateful to the City for their support of small businesses. It was a financial lifeline for us during a very difficult time, an invaluable resource to position us for growth past this pandemic and tremendous emotional support by knowing that our city was fighting for us and alongside us.”
Anish Hotels Group/Vice President of Finance
Year Opened: 2020
Number of Employees: 20-25
“We appreciate the OKC Small Business Continuity program. Cathy O’Connor with The Alliance and Joanna McSpadden with the City of OKC and their team were great to work with and made this a straightforward process in difficult times.
We are thankful for their help and believe OKC will be better on the other side of this pandemic because of it. With COVID-19, there were some federal programs to assist small businesses, but those were back in March or April and were only designed to last for a few months.
We are in October and COVID-19 is still here. The hotel industry has been one of the most affected by the pandemic as business travel and travel have disappeared.
While additional stimulus talks have gone back and forth in D.C. for several months of uncertainty, the city of OKC could help small businesses and make sure we get through this pandemic together."
Alyx Picard Davis
deadCenter Film / Executive Director
Year Opened: 2001
Number of Employees 3
“Our funding was very recent. We were notified on Oct. 5 and received funding on Oct. 19. As a nonprofit organization, revenue and support have been down this year even as we successfully adapt our programs for virtual presentation. The Oklahoma City Small Business Continuity grant ensures that our lean staff can continue the mission of promoting, celebrating, and encouraging creativity through independent film with the energy, excitement, and innovation that deadCenter Film has built over 20 years in the deadCenter of the country, We were able to maintain our internationally known annual film festival the second weekend in June this year. This event was successfully pivoted to a virtual festival, and plans are moving forward for a responsible, safe hybrid version of the festival in 2021.
We are incredibly grateful to the City of Oklahoma City for recognizing the impact deadCenter has on our city and state. Thanks to the City’s financial support we will continue to inspire a new generation of storytellers, creatively."
Oklahoma City business owners and 501(c)(3) non-profits with 100 or fewer full-time equivalent employees may go to okcSmallBizHelp.com to apply for COVID-19 disaster relief funds.
This story originally appeared in the Nov. 2020 POINT.