- Kenton Tsoodle
OKC program helps many small businesses, nonprofits
The OKC Rescue Program launched in April to help Oklahoma City small businesses and nonprofits continue recovering from the financial impact of COVID-19. The response was strong. In just three months, we received more than 850 applications. Of those, some 500 applications were qualified from more than 300 businesses and nonprofits, committing approximately $5 million in total funding.
The program was designed to help the most vulnerable businesses. To qualify, the business or nonprofit must be located in Oklahoma City with 100 or fewer employees and be either a minority-owned business, located within a Qualified Census Tract (majority low-income neighborhoods) or able to demonstrate economic impact of COVID-19. In the coming months, phase two of the relief program will focus on workforce development and training.
An example of who has been helped is Delores Youngblood, owner of The Mansion, approved for relief funds to update the website and place digital ads to promote the bed and breakfast with historic roots. The Mansion was built in 1937 by Dr. Wyatt H. Slaughter, the first Black physician in Oklahoma City, noted for his contribution in developing Deep Deuce. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2018. Only 2% of the 100,000 historic sites in the U.S. represent the Black experience, making preservation of The Mansion important to Oklahoma City.
The OKC Rescue Program was structured to pay for business services ranging from marketing to accounting, and reimbursements for exterior improvements or facility modifications made in order to better serve customers during the pandemic.
Local vendors, vetted and preapproved by the OKC Rescue Program, provide the services and are paid directly by the program. In this way, we ensure that Oklahoma City’s allocation from the federal American Rescue Plan Act has a multiplier effect on our local economy.
We designed the new OKC Rescue Program to meet the most pressing needs while helping the smallest and most vulnerable businesses. Research shows that minority-owned businesses have been negatively affected by COVID-19 at a higher and more severe rate.
The OKC Rescue Program is administered by the Alliance for Economic Development for Oklahoma City and is funded by the city of Oklahoma City’s allocation from the federal American Rescue Plan Act. For details, visit www.okcrescueprogram.com.