By Jeff Harrison
Midwest City officials received good news and bad news last week as they wrapped up the application period for a grant program to help local businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Midwest City Memorial Hospital Authority offered cash grants of $1,500 to $4,000 for local businesses that were impacted by government closures earlier this year.
By the July 21 deadline, the city had received 45 applications. Robert Coleman, economic development director for Midwest City, said he expected three times as many applications but heard a promising response from many businesses that opted out.
“I was surprised to hear from some of the businesses that said they were doing so well that they didn’t feel like it was right to apply for the grant,” Coleman said.
The Hospital Authority, a public trust, has about $450,000 available for relief grants from funds typically budgeted for the Grantors’ Community Improvement Grant Program. Since its inception over 20 years ago, the Community Grant Program has traditionally helped institutional and non-profit entities with special projects in Midwest City.
This is the first time funds have been used solely for economic development purposes.
The business grant amounts were based on the type of operation. Individual business owners who were forced to close a retail storefront, restaurant or sales tax collecting business were eligible for a maximum of $4,000. Businesses with multiple locations, including some outside of Midwest were part of the second tier and could receive smaller grants. All publically facing businesses impacted by government closures comprised the third tier and were eligible for the smallest grants.
Coleman said the Hospital Authority and its Board of Grantors will meet in the next few weeks to review the applications and award grants. They will also decide what to do with the remaining funds.
“There are a lot of things they can do with it,” Coleman said. “They could sit on the money, they could use it for their regular community grant program, they could expand what we’ve done so far, or maybe wait for a second round of business grants.”