If your small business or nonprofit has been hit hard by COVID-19, the Tulsa Responds Task Force has just the tool you need to navigate the sometimes Byzantine process of applying for financial assistance.
The organization has assembled about two dozen volunteers to help organizations figure out what federal, state or local assistance is available and how to apply for it.
Pamela Amburgy, a former commercial lender, is one of the volunteers, or navigators.
“We absolutely want to give basic answers and direct people to the forms and tell them which steps they need to complete and not get too technical into their questions, because we’re not giving tax advice or anything like that,” Amburgy said. “But we (also) want people to know the city cares and that they are not alone.”
Tulsa Responds was created by the Tulsa Economic Development Corp. in partnership with the city of Tulsa, the George Kaiser Family Foundation, Tulsa Community Foundation and Atento Capital.
Rose Washington, chief executive officer of TEDC, said the hope is to get Tulsa’s small businesses and nonprofits back on their feet as quickly as possible.
“There are a limited number of loans available, so we want to help as many Tulsans access resources and receive the assistance they need to overcome these challenging times,” Washington said in a prepared statement.
Tulsa Responds is assisting organizations and nonprofits with fewer than 500 employees, offering guidance on financial relief programs such as the city’s Resilience and Recovery Fund, the Paycheck Protection Program, and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan.
“We are not trying to act as accountants,” Amburgy said. “We’re sort of giving people general information and directing them to websites.”
Organizations looking for assistance should go to the Tulsa Responds website at tulsaresponds.org and complete a brief questionnaire. A navigator will respond either by phone or by email.
The Tulsa Responds Task Force has responded to 700 inquiries since the website went live April 1.
Amburgy said she and her fellow navigators had braced themselves for a lot of sad stories and heartache, and there has been plenty of that. But she said she’s also been impressed by the kindness and generosity of the people she’s helped.
“There are a lot of people who tell their stories,” she said, “and they are trying to keep their employees, and they are trying to inspire and help others.”
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