Tulsa County launches distribution of U.S. CARES Act funding to small businesses and nonprofit organizations

(TULSA, Okla.) — The Tulsa County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) Chair Ron Peters announced today it will begin distribution of federal funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to Tulsa County-based small businesses and nonprofit organizations as part of its Phase II allocation process.

Tulsa County received $113,690,799 from the U.S. CARES Act to reimburse expenses and replenish resources related to COVID-19 throughout Tulsa County’s municipalities, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofit organizations. During Phase I, the Tulsa BOCC distributed more than $8.7 million in aid to the City of Tulsa, surrounding municipalities and key government agencies such as Tulsa Emergency Management Agency, Tulsa Health Department, River Parks, Tulsa County Election Board and more.

“This is an unprecedented public health crisis and we must confront this extremely challenging time together,” said Commissioner Peters. “Phase two of the allocation process will assist small businesses and nonprofit organizations with the funding resources needed to reduce the economic fallout in Tulsa County due to COVID-19.”

The BOCC officially partnered with the Tulsa Economic Development Corporation (TEDC) to assist small businesses and nonprofit organizations through its RESET (Resources to Empower Small Enterprises for Tomorrow) Fund. The RESET fund received $25 million in CARES Act funding from Tulsa County to administer forgivable loans of up to $125,000 to solopreneurs and businesses with fewer than 100 employees. The RESET fund also received $5 million to assist area nonprofit organizations with either a grant of up to $250,000 for those providing social services to impacted individuals or a forgivable loan for non-social services.

“The Tulsa County CARES Act will help fill the gaps not currently being met by other state and federal loan programs,” said TEDC CEO Rose Washington. “Through our RESET Fund, small businesses can apply for reimbursement of expenses incurred directly related to the pandemic, such as PPE equipment or capital improvement projects required to maintain their business under new and unexpected operations.” 

To begin applying today, small business owners and nonprofit organizations may access the RESET application portal via the website TulsaCountyCARES.org or via the TEDCNet.com website. The criteria for CARES Act funding may only be used to cover costs for the following:

  • necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency of COVID-19;
  • expenditures that were not accounted for in an operating budget as of March 27, 2020;
  • and expenditures during the period that begins on March 1, 2020, and ends on December 30, 2020.

“As a recipient of almost $114 million in CARES Act funding, the Commissioners seek to use the funding in a way that is fully compliant with Federal requirements while quickly and efficiently addressing the stark challenges that many in Tulsa County face,” said Commissioner Peters. “We will also focus on transparency and accountability for disbursed funds, understanding the importance of good stewardship of public funds during these difficult times.” 

Oversight of the funds allocated to the TEDC RESET Fund are approved during a weekly Tulsa County CARES Review Committee led by BOCC Chairman and Commissioner Ron Peters, County Clerk Michael Willis, and staffed by the director of government affairs and two chief deputies. The Review Committee assesses the applications recommended for approval by the TEDC RESET program to ensure required criteria is met. If approved by the Review Committee, the applications are presented at the following BOCC meeting held every Monday at 9:30 am at the Tulsa County Courthouse, Room 119. Upon approval, the TEDC RESET program is authorized to release the funds to the applicant. 

“The TulsaCountyCares.org website content will continue to grow in order to provide accurate and timely reporting to the community about which small businesses or organizations are receiving CARES funding and for what purposes,” said Commissioner Peters.

Each disbursement is logged by the office of the County Clerk and the CARES Fund is incorporated into the Tulsa County’s Financial Transparency Portal for accountability to the public. Additionally, Tulsa County officials and the TEDC are comparing and verifying the claims against other funding resources to ensure an expense is not reimbursed through other State or Federal claims.

“The TEDC is taking exhaustive measures to document uses, eliminate duplicate applications, and safeguard against any fraudulent claims,” said Washington. “We are fully confident that we have created the best program in Oklahoma to support small businesses while ensuring unquestionable integrity. We have expanded and thoroughly trained our team in preparation for all scenarios.”

“Time is of the essence right now. Small business owners have worked hard to reopen their doors to the public all with unexpected and unbudgeted costs,” said District 1 Commissioner Stan Sallee. “Many small business owners in Tulsa County are working day-to-day to keep their doors open. The $25 million RESET fund allocation will compensate small business owners for expenses and allow each one to readjust operating budgets to meet their business needs to fight the financial impact of COVID-19 for the next six months.”

“We know the demand and the need is great. Now that the processes and oversight are in place, we can begin quickly disbursing funds to the groups that have had to bear the burden of expenses from the very beginning. Many area nonprofit organizations have already used reserve revenues to serve the needs of citizens throughout Tulsa County while also protecting their own employees from the dangers of COVID-19,” said District 2 Commissioner Karen Keith. 

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