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  • Cathy O’Connor

Small businesses, nonprofits demonstrate creativity, resilience

COVID-19 required small businesses and nonprofits to quickly change how they provide goods and services. In-person shopping, eating, events and other connections have been replaced, at least in part, by virtual contact. Some businesses and nonprofits have shown true resilience.

The Study, a 64-tap wine bar with beer, spirits and games that opened in Film Row just as the pandemic hit, purchased air purifiers for each room, added screens to divide the open bar and laminated menus. Equipment was reimbursed through the Small Business Continuity Program’s retrofit funding. The Study also added seating outdoors, thanks to the new Streateries permitting process from the city of Oklahoma City to convert parking spaces to outdoor seating. The Study also extended services beyond their walls. They reinvented wine tastings in a virtual setting, with curbside wine pickup, suggestions for local restaurant food pairings, and the ensuing lively wine discussion served online by The Study’s co-owner and sommelier. They also started delivering wine baskets combined with other locally made chocolates and cheeses, a hit over the holidays and a creative Valentine’s idea.

While we aren’t dressing for many events these days, Swiss Cleaners used the opportunity to create a new website that makes it easier for customers to click and request contactless laundry, dry-cleaning and clothing repair pickup. Swiss Cleaners promoted the services through Facebook and Google ads, reaching 48,000 people in Oklahoma City in only two months. The website and ads were paid for through the Small Business Continuity Program’s technical assistance that provided advice and services from local professionals.

Another technical assistance success story is ReMerge, a nonprofit diversion program that keeps mothers out of jail for nonviolent offenses. ReMerge launched its Catalyst Cookies program that helps the moms build essential job skills in a 12-week program with a curriculum focused on entrepreneurship, marketing and inventory management. The technical assistance program helped rebrand Catalyst Cookies with new packaging and design.

Over the coming weeks and months, I’ll highlight more successes from the Small Business Continuity Program, the relief effort that provided cash incentives, loans and technical assistance to small businesses and nonprofits in Oklahoma City. The support was provided by the city of Oklahoma City with CARES Act funding and the programs were administered by The Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City.


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