Program to help small businesses, nonprofits
Next week, we are launching the OKC Rescue Program to help Oklahoma City small businesses and nonprofits with COVID-19 economic recovery.
The Alliance has administered several other COVID relief programs for the business and nonprofit community since spring 2020, and we recently completed a survey of organizations that received funding. More than 95% of respondents reported that programs were important in supporting their stability. Funds helped them to maintain jobs and payroll, purchase equipment or technology or complete renovations to adapt their physical space. Some 88% said they still need financial assistance and assistance with marketing, payroll, equipment and operational support.
In our past work with relief programs, we’ve seen firsthand how small businesses and nonprofits that are provided advice, support and hands-on expertise have been able to rebound from COVID and increase their capacity. Some of the most requested services are for marketing, including with websites and outreach to customers, and for human resources to find talent and help with policies for virtual and hybrid work and updated leave policies. Recipients also ask for IT support to upgrade software and systems to handle online transactions, remote team collaboration and more virtual service delivery. Many businesses need a combination of services.
That’s why the new OKC Rescue Program includes technical support funds where we match businesses and nonprofits with pre-screened, local experts who can provide advice and help for these most-requested services. Also included for small businesses is reimbursements for outdoor facade improvements, new ventilation, outdoor seating and other facility modifications.
We designed OKC Rescue to help the smallest and most vulnerable businesses. Research shows that minority-owned businesses have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 at a higher and more severe rate, so our programs have low barriers in the application process. To qualify for OKC Rescue, the business or nonprofit must be located in Oklahoma City with 100 or fewer employees. Applicants must either be a minority-owned business, be located within a Qualified Census Tract (majority low-income neighborhoods) or demonstrate economic impact of COVID-19.
The OKC Rescue Program will be 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. Next week’s column will focus more on the types of support available and how to apply.