Modest financial help may be on the way for Norman small businesses ahead of additional statewide restrictions on bars and restaurants later this week.
The City of Norman is considering awarding microgrants worth $10,000 from federal COVID-19 relief funds. However, some business owners are worried it’s too little too late.
“Our rent doesn’t stop, our electric doesn’t stop, the licensing hasn’t stopped,” Mark Dorman at Red Brick Bar said.
The city council is expected to vote next Tuesday on spending Norman’s remaining CARES Act funds in a package that would include $1 million small business relief, $1 million rent assistance and $1 million for winter weather clean up.
“I can promise you there are people right now trying to decide, ‘Should I close my business at the end of November and not pay my rent?’” Norman city councilman Joe Carter said at a meeting Tuesday night. “The sooner we can give them some hope, the better.”
Half of the city’s $9.6 million in CARES Act funding was already used to fund construction of a 2008 senior center.
“I know the senior center is a great thing, too, I’m not disagreeing with that,” Blue Bonnet Bar co-owner Tanner Miller said. “But man, read the room. People are opening businesses and closing businesses in the same year.”
“It’s time for (the city) to quit kicking us in the teeth, per se, and let’s see them do something to give back to us,” Dorman said. “We’ve been doing what they ask us to do, but we don’t really see anything back in return.”
Miller said he doesn’t object to the newly announced statewide restriction. He’s just frustrated more hasn’t been done to stop the spread before it came to hurting his business.
“COVID(-19) is running rampant and our state government has done nothing to help with the slowing of COVID(-19),” Miller said. “People should remember this when they’re broke and can’t go to their favorite places. We could’ve slowed us down and we didn’t.”