The U.S. Chamber of Commerce warned in an August report minority-owned businesses are more likely to have been denied loans to help survive the pandemic. The organization reported minority-owned businesses face a 13% denial rate while non-minority businesses face an 8% denial rate.

The long-term disadvantages facing minority businesses is prompting the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber to draw up a proposal for long-term small business assistance that is expected to be presented to the city council in a few weeks.

The $2.75 million unanimously approved Tuesday by the city council is dedicated to businesses that have a 51% consulting and management interest from owners who are either African American or Black, Native American, Hispanic or Latino, Asian Pacific or Asian Indian.

Evan Fay, with the chamber’s economic development office, said the $2.75 million will include $2 million for grants that will allow businesses with 25 or fewer employees to qualify for up to $25,000 each.

Fay said the remainder of the funding, $500,000 for technical assistance and business retrofits and $250,000 for economic recovery and resiliency planning are intended to help the owners beyond the current crisis.

Fay said a community response involving the Black chamber, Hispanic chamber, Community Action Agency, small business development centers and other organizations, will be launched to quickly review and disperse the aid to ensure the money is spent before the CARES Act deadline on Dec. 30.

Applications are set to begin on Oct. 26 and end on Dec. 1 with “rolling” payments that will provide assistance as applications are approved. The community wide response, Fay said, will be directed to helping minority small business owners navigate the application process.

“We want to make sure all the necessary documents and requirements are met so they can get assistance,” Fay said.

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