By Jeff Harrison
Midwest City leaders are exploring ways to help small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
City Manager Tim Lyon said the city is looking to create a small business grant program that would help business owners with salaries, rent and utilities.
The proposed small business grant program would be funded by the Memorial Hospital Authority and would replace the community grant program.
“This would be like what Oklahoma City and Edmond have done but on a smaller scale,” Lyon said.
Robert Coleman, economic development director, has taken the lead on the proposed small business grant program. He said they want to help businesses as soon as possible but still have many details to iron out.
“It’s difficult because we start asking if we’re too late,” he said. “We don’t know if some of the businesses that needed the help are already gone, or if others have survived to the point that they don’t need it.”
Coleman said they would like to help small businesses that had to close or curtail their businesses due to the virus. Independently owned small business and franchises with a presence in Midwest City would likely receive priority.
“We have a lot of great businesses that have been here a long time and if Midwest City can stand by them, I think that’d be a good thing,” Coleman said.
About 400-500 businesses in Midwest City had to close or restrict business due to the virus, Coleman said.
The Memorial Hospital Authority Board of Grantors awards about $400,000 – $500,000 in grants to non-profits organizations and public entities each year. The community grant program is funded by annual interest earned by the Hospital Authority.
City officials believe they will have about the same amount of money this year for the small business grant program. The final amount will be determined on July 1.
Coleman said they plan to have a few meetings with Memorial Hospital Authority Board of Grantors next month to discuss possible changes to the grant program this year. Applications for the community grants are usually accepted in the fall and they are awarded in spring.
The city council must also approve the plan.
Coleman hopes they can have the small business grant program ready by July.