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City of Tulsa Looking at Roughly a Dozen Programs for $30M in CARES Act Funding from State

Matt Trotter

The City of Tulsa intends to stand up around a dozen programs over the next few months with its allocation of federal coronavirus relief funds from the state.

In an announcement on Thursday, city officials said spending would fall into five major areas: addressing unbudgeted costs of the public health emergency, safety modifications, supporting vulnerable Tulsans, helping workers displaced by COVID-19 and helping small businesses.

One program will aim to make community spaces safer for people to return to, with both things people can see, like social distancing reminders, and things people can’t see, like enhanced filtration in ventilation systems.

"It may not necessarily be life as normal, life pre-COVID, but I think getting back to those aspects of life that we were more familiar with — and, quite frankly, that I think the City of Tulsa is dependent on people getting back to from a civic standpoint from an economic standpoint, certainly, and from a social standpoint," City Senior Policy Advisor for Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Economic Innovation Clay Holk told the Economic Development Commission earlier in the week.

Another program will be aimed at helping service, hospitality and energy industry employees who lost their jobs because of the pandemic.

"A lot of those folks are going to need to reorient, reskill, look for new ooportunities. And so, it’s thinking about how we can take our existing workforce development infrastructure and really scale that up," Holk said.

The city also intends to bolster a financial navigator program. Economic Development Commission member Shelley Cadamy said considering how many Tulsans are out of work, that will need to tread lightly.

"If you don’t have enough money to pay your bills, all the financial literacy training in the world is not going to help, because you don’t have enough money to pay your bills," Cadamy said.

The City of Tulsa did not qualify for a direct allocation of Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES Act funds and was given more than $30 million from the state’s $1.2 billion share — about $75 per person.

The city announced yesterday its first $5.6 million of CARES Act funds would go toward improving internet access for thousands of families.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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