Although Oklahoma hasn’t been hit as hard by COVID-19 as California and New York, the disease has still affected the Sooner state. As of late April, there were 2,599 cases reported and 140 deaths. And there’s been significant economic fallout: Nearly 200,000 people have filed for unemployment in the state in the past four weeks, a big number for a state with fewer than 4 million residents. The good news is that assistance provided by the federal government and Oklahoma can help residents and small business owners. If it has affected you or your business, this guide will show you how to find help. If this crisis has raised concerns about how you can protect your finances now and in the future, consider working with a financial advisor.
Oklahoma Coronavirus Relief for Individuals
Like the rest of the United States, Oklahoma offers the assistance provided under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Economic and Security (CARES) Act. The state normally offers 26 weeks of employment benefits, but now it provides a total of 39 weeks, due to changes in federal law. The waiting period has been waived for all unemployment claims filed with an effective date of March 15 or later, for as long as the governor’s executive order waiving the waiting period remains in effect. The work search requirement has also been waived. If you are receiving unemployment, you should say “yes” when asked if you have made the required number of work search contacts.
Oklahoma also created its own resources. One is the Covid-19 hotline, which residents can use to get in touch with medical professionals for questions about the virus. The number for the hotline is 877-215-8336.
Another is the Oklahoma Works program, which connects Oklahomans who have lost their employment due to coronavirus and want permanent or temporary positions the opportunity to submit their information to many employers. The site distributes your information to local companies that are hiring, based on your zip code. Participating employers will contact you directly if there is an opening you are qualified for. The website does not guarantee a job, just an efficient way to get your information out to local employers. You can send your information to potential employers here.
Oklahoma Coronavirus Relief for Small Businesses
In addition to federal resources provided in the CARES Act, cities as well as the state of Oklahoma have developed their own resources for businesses.
Oklahoma Manufacturing Reboot Program
The Oklahoma Manufacturing Reboot Program was created to address the negative effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had on Oklahoma businesses, specifically manufacturers. This program utilizes up to $5 million from the Governor’s Quick Action Closing Fund to assist existing Oklahoma manufacturers as they retool to develop new products or expand current capabilities. Companies with the NAICS code 311111-339999 were eligible to apply for this program, as long as they offer health insurance to their employees. Priority was given to companies producing products for the healthcare industry, although other products were eligible for the program. However, the proposed project must be a net benefit to the state. Awards range from $25,000 to $150,000. The application submission deadline was April 17, 2020, at noon. To learn more about the program, go here.
Oklahoma City Small Business Continuity Program
The Oklahoma City council approved a $5.5 million emergency relief package for small businesses to help them cope with the pandemic. This is the first emergency aid package directly from the city government to local business in modern Oklahoma City history.
To qualify, businesses needed to show they had lost at least half their business, and that they receive most of their revenue from in-store sales. Businesses that have been operating in Oklahoma City for at least a year will be given priority. The goal is for at least 25% of the funding is supposed to go to businesses in low to middle income census areas. The application for the program closed on April 17, but you can find the application and more information here.
Tulsa Resilience and Recovery Fund
The city of Tulsa partnered with the Tulsa Economic Development Corporation to provide $1.1 million in zero interest loans to small business owners affected by COVID-19. To qualify, your business must have fewer than 50 full-time equivalent employees, a 2019 revenue of $5 million or less, and have experienced a decreased in revenue of at least 25% between February and March 2020 as a result of coronavirus. You can get more information about the fund and apply here.
Federal Coronavirus Relief for Individuals
Congress passed a $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, also known as the CARES Act. It includes several major relief programs for individuals affected by the coronavirus, including enhanced unemployment benefits, paid coronavirus sick leave, a tax deadline extension, and coronavirus student relief programs.
The three key enhanced unemployment relief programs the CARES Act introduced were: Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC); Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA); and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC). This unemployment benefits expansion allows you to claim an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits (pushing the total to 39 for most states). This expanded unemployment relief also allows freelancers to claim unemployment if their income has been affected by the crisis.
The CARES Act also established a direct coronavirus stimulus check program. The stimulus checks are sent directly to all Americans within certain income levels, even if they have not gotten sick or lost their job. Individuals can receive up to $1,200, while married couples can earn up to $2,400 (plus $500 per dependent). However, the amount you get is affected by your adjusted gross income. Specifically, individuals won’t receive anything if they make $99,000 or more. The cut-off limit for married couples is $198,000, and it’s $136,500 for heads of household. Our coronavirus stimulus check calculator can help you determine how much you may receive in your stimulus check.
Federal Coronavirus Relief for Small Businesses
Coronavirus-impacted small businesses also qualify for federal aid. The CARES Act created relief programs for small businesses, including the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which was created to help small businesses rebuild revenue. PPP allows eligible businesses with no more than 499 employees to borrow 2.5 times its average monthly payroll costs or up to $10 million (excluding salaries that are $100,000 or more). Small business owners can apply through a local PPP lender.
Small businesses can also apply for for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), which are Small Business Administration (SBA) loans. These SBA loans offer qualifying businesses an emergency cash advance of $10,000, with loans of up to $2 million for businesses and nonprofits. You can apply here. Other types of coronavirus relief for businesses include the the SBA 7(a) loan program, the SBA Debt Relief Program, and the Express Loan Program.
The Bottom Line
Help getting through the COVID-19 pandemic is available for Oklahomans and their businesses from their city, state, and federal governments. That help is available to both small businesses and individuals.
Financial Management Tips in a Crisis
- Financial advisors are used to serving the unique needs of small business owners. Finding the right financial advisor who fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors who will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
- The government is offering various types of financial aid to those affected by the pandemic, including providing stimulus checks. If you’re struggling to meet your rent or mortgage payments, check out coronavirus rent and mortgage relief. A budget can also help you cut down expenses and deduct more of your money toward savings; our budget calculator can help you set up a budget.
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