As has been highlighted by national news outlets, the things people are being mandated to do to help combat the spread of COVID-19 is hurting businesses, especially small businesses.
Ponca City’s small businesses are not any different than those in other areas.
What is being done locally to give assistance to Ponca City businesses?
Rich Cantillon, executive director of the Ponca City Chamber of Commerce, highlighted a number of things his agency is doing.
“We have offered our Chamber Member businesses free space in our Email Blast to promote their business,” he said. “We are also offering to put what they are doing in these difficult times on our Chamber Facebook Page.
“We are encouraging people to be safe but to Shop Ponca when possible. Many businesses will bring what you want to your car. I would suggest phoning the business and asking what they can do to accommodate your shopping needs. Several of our businesses have online shopping.”
“Small business is the backbone of Ponca City and in fact America. What we can do, in a safe way, to keep it vibrant, I say do it,” he added.
In connection with that sentiment, Cantillon told of an opportunity being offered for local shoppers to win some Chamber Bucks.
“We are encouraging people to save their receipts when shopping Ponca City. Then when we can open up our chamber lobby we will collect those receipts at the Chamber Office. They will bring their receipt in with their name and phone number on the receipt. Then on Monday, June 1 we will have a drawing and give away chamber bucks. We will have one $500 winner and five $100 winners.
“We got beat up when we first announced doing the receipt thing. But you can still shop Ponca City a variety of ways so why not save the receipts and possibly win Chamber Bucks?”
David Myers, executive director of the Ponca City Development Authority, said from his perspective, “The main focus right now has been to get the correct information to businesses about the various federal stimulus programs that have been passed in Washington DC. These programs have been adopted largely with the last two weeks to get the resources that only the federal government has to help businesses get through this period.”
Telling about what’s available from the federal level, he said:
“One such program is the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. This program is designed to provide most small businesses that have have been in business since before Feb. 1 with a loan to get through the next six months, more or less. This program is called the Economic Injury Disaster Program (EIDL).
“There is also a program, the Payroll Protection Program (PPP), that helps small businesses cover payroll through June 30. In addition, the Families First Coronavirus Protection Act has a lot of mandates and benefits that impact businesses from paid leave, to unemployment and a lot more.”
There also have been some developments at the state level that the PCDA has been monitoring. he said.
“There has been the Governor’s Executive Order from last week and PCDA has been working to clarify things from that and communicate that to businesses in Ponca City. As you might imagine, there is a lot of information flying around right now and PCDA has been attempting to validate this information and make sure businesses are talking to the right people about the right subject. We’re also trying to make sure that businesses are going to the right website for the right program and so forth.”
He went on: “The federal programs have been dramatically escalated and in many cases there are significant changes in the details that can be very confusing and difficult to navigate. We have established an information portal on the PCDA website (www.goponca.com click on the COVID-19 button) that has links to the above as well as other information in order to try and save businesses time and frustration.
“Things continue to change rapidly, however. As an example, the new federal rules on the huge stimulus bill signed into law last Friday (March 27) will not come out until this Friday, assuming they are on time. Both PCDA and the Chamber have been working to be informational clearing houses on this information. PCDA largely works the industrial side and the Chamber the rest of the business community (there is overlap). Neither PCDA nor the Chamber, however, are experts on these new programs nor do we have any control over them. Our collective goal right now is to get businesses to the right place to get the information.”