Economic Recovery Task Force creates utility, loan programs
The Covid-19 Economic Recovery Task Force has established programs that will pay past due utility bill amounts and offer zero percent interest loans for small businesses in Bartlesville impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Bartlesville Development Authority President David Wood presented the programs to the City Council during the regularly scheduled council meeting on June 1. The task force, created by the council via City ordinance in March, is tasked with identifying ways to assist community businesses that have been negatively impacted by the Covid-19 crisis. The BDA has assisted in facilitating the task force, which consists of local business and community leaders, and executing the programs established by the task force.
Wood said the task force has focused on accomplishing three things:
“The (task force) agreed the assistance needed to be targeted, it needed to be efficiently administered, and it needed to be financially responsible,” Wood said.
After much consideration, the task force created two programs aimed at assisting the city’s smaller businesses:
Utility Payment Program
Bartlesville businesses that were current on electric, water and gas utility payments as of the February billing cycle and now carry a past due balance will have the past due portion paid. There is no application process and no need to contact the BDA or utility companies. The total cost of the program is expected to be less than $150,000, including $75,000 for AEP/PSO accounts, $25,000 for City of Bartlesville accounts and $15,000 for Oklahoma Natural Gas accounts.
Loan Guarantee Program
Economic development funds will be used to help secure loans (75 percent) for local small businesses in need of assistance to recover from the negative impact of the pandemic. The maximum loan amount per business is $25,000 with zero percent interest for 12 months. Businesses must be located in Bartlesville and current on license, permit, registrations, etc., if required. Anyone interested in applying for a loan or obtaining more information may contact their local bank.
CARES Act aimed at bolstering economy during shutdown
On March 27, the U.S. Senate passed the CARES Act, a $2 trillion relief package intended to help individuals, the public health sector, schools and businesses impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
While the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act provides the allocation of $300 billion for individuals and $500 billion in loans and other funding for large corporations, small businesses owners can expect some relief as well, including:
- Emergency grants and forgivable loans for companies with 500 or fewer employees
- Relaxes some rules for expenses and deductions that will keep small business employees on the payroll and keep businesses open
- Help in maintaining payroll, pay employees, pay rent and/or mortgage debt
- Grants of up to $10,000 to provide emergency funds for small businesses to cover immediate operating costs
- Forgivable loans allocated for the Small Business Administration to provide loans of up to $10 million
- Up to six months of payments for small businesses already using Small Business Administration loans
For more information, visit the U.S. Chamber of Commerce website.
The following actions have been taken by the State of Oklahoma in response to the Covid-19 pandemic:
- State income tax payments have been deferred until July 15 without late fees or interest.
- The one-week waiting period before unemployment benefits can be paid has been suspended and the work-search requirement for unemployment benefits has been waived.
- The State’s request for disaster loans for small businesses across all 77 counties that are affected by the Covid-19 pandemic has been approved. Businesses and nonprofit groups can apply for up to $2 million in loans through the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. For more information, see the SBA’s website.
- Expiration dates for all occupational licenses issued by any Oklahoma agency, board or commission have been extended during the Declared State of Emergency period.
- Expiration on driver’s licenses issued by the State of Oklahoma are delayed until further notified.