OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma’s unemployment claims this week are already breaking the number of unemployment claims from last week.
Small businesses in Oklahoma are looking for a lifeline.
“Long term, this could shut me down permanently. Forever,” said metro dentist, Dr. Carol Blossfeld.
As efforts grow to stop COVID-19, thousands of local doors are closing.
“It’s pretty much across the board,” said Cathy O’Conner, the CEO of Alliance for Economic Development.
O’Conner is working with the City of Oklahoma City to search for answers.
“We really want these small businesses to still be there,” said O’Connor.
Some businesses, like restaurants, are still allowed to operate with restrictions, but only while they’re still able.
“What we have today is going to be it. I finished my last line of food,” said Alain Buthion, part owner of La Baguette Bistro in Oklahoma City.
La Baguette served its last customers Friday night before shutting the doors. The owners hope the closure will only be temporary.
“It’s going to be difficult, it’s going to be hard,” said Buthion.
Other closures are mandatory. All elective health procedures in Oklahoma City are grinding to a halt.
Dr. Carol Blossfeld’s metro dentistry practice is the definition of a small business. Her three employees are now filing for unemployment.
“It was devastating. I have these three wonderful ladies, and they’re family to me. The last thing I want to do is turn my back on them,” said Blossfeld.
But Oklahoma City leaders say help could be coming. The City Council is set to vote on a historic $5.5 million relief package. If passed, it could put $10,000 back into the pockets of small businesses. It could also provide even more money for potential loans.
“It’s enough to help them make it through and survive,” said O’Connor.
The package would be a saving grace for owners with nowhere left to turn.
“We don’t have time to rebuild. It took me 20 years to get my practice to where it was today. I don’t have 20 more years,” said Blossfeld.
The proposal still needs to pass through the Oklahoma City City Council. The vote is expected next Tuesday.
If passed, a website will be up and running as soon as possible for businesses to apply.