Oklahoma Bounce Back applications due Friday

Sen. Bill Coleman District 10, Oklahoma Senate

As Oklahoma’s economy begins to reopen, there are some exciting opportunities for business owners to help you not only recover but to expand and grow. Oklahoma’s main website for all COVID-19 health, business and social resources is https://govstatus.egov.com/oklahoma-coronavirus-information. The Oklahoma Department of Commerce’s website is another good resource for Oklahoma businesses.

One new program, announced last week, is the Oklahoma Bounce Back Assistance Program to support and encourage high-impact new capital investment statewide throughout numerous industries. This will also lead to new product developments and increase capacity in the state’s current companies, as well as support existing jobs and help create new ones.

The program will provide $50,000 - $150,000 monthly payroll tax rebates to help with business growth and expansion. To be eligible, for-profit companies must have a minimum annual payroll of $1.25 million. Their capital investment, ratio of private sector dollars leveraged from the program, number of employees, projected number of new jobs, and the average employee pay will all be considered for eligibility. The projects must provide a net positive benefit to the state. Projects that can be implemented quickly will be given special consideration.

Companies that are receiving funds through the Oklahoma Manufacturing Reboot Program or have contracts through the Oklahoma Quality Jobs Program are not eligible for this program.

Participating businesses will be required to provide quarterly reports verifying their employment levels and expenditures. They must also submit verification of purchase and installation of machinery and equipment.

You can apply under Business Services and the Business Bounce Back Program at www.okcommerce.gov/bounceback. Applications for the Bounce Back Assistance Program are due by Friday, May 8 at 12 p.m.

This is yet another effort to stimulate and diversify our state’s economy. We cannot continue to rely so heavily on the energy sector. In the middle of this health crisis, we’re once again faced with an unstable energy sector and extremely low energy prices that have a devastating effect on our state revenues because of our strong reliance on the industry.

For those who are looking for work, there are many employers taking applications right now. You can browse these job openings at https://okjobmatch.com.

I know filing for traditional and the PUA unemployment for the self-employed has been frustrating. This is a small agency that received 116,000 unemployment claims the week before last. Their website and system originally only had the capacity to process up to 2,500 claims. This is why there have been so many problems, but you must remember these are historic times and a new program was launched for self-employed individuals, which has never been provided.

Good news, though, as they have created a faster, more efficient website to file or check on claims at https://ui.ok.gov/. They’ve also hired around 300 new claims specialists to help. Oklahoma just received authorization for the PUA program the week before last, so those who are self-employed should see their cases moving forward.

It appeared last week that we might be back in session this week. There are several pending issues that must be addressed, with the most pressing one being the FY 2021 Budget. For many reasons, including the pandemic, this will be an extremely challenging budget that will require some tough decisions to meet our Constitutional balanced budget requirement. The next couple of weeks will be crucial for the state of Oklahoma as decisions are made to help get our state economy back on the road to recovery.

If you need help with any of these programs or have legislative questions, please contact me at (405) 521-5581 or Bill.Coleman@oksenate.gov.