Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C. approved for Oklahoma CARES Act money because of its OKC headquarters

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. was approved for Oklahoma City CARES Act funding because they have a headquarters office on the Hobby Lobby campus in southwest Oklahoma City.

About 1,200 businesses originally applied for between $5,000 and $100,000 in CARES Act funds.

There were two rounds of acceptance according to a spokesperson with the City of Oklahoma City.

The Museum of the Bible was accepted in the second round, receiving $100,000 of the city’s limited CARES Act funding. According to the city’s spokesperson, there were about 600 applying businesses and about 250 were approved.

The city’s spokesperson said 79 of those museum employees are based here out of over 250 total employees with the museum. Those 79 employees were one reason the museum was eligible for the funding.

“Their application is compliant with the guidelines,” the spokesperson said.

The application sent in was for the ‘small business continuity program’. The eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • For-profit businesses and 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations are eligible to apply.
  • Business must have been established (not necessarily open) prior to February 15, 2020 in a physical location within city limits (online businesses are not eligible). The majority of the revenue of the business must normally come from in person (not online) transactions.
  • Must have 100 or fewer full-time equivalent employees.
  • Must be able to demonstrate a negative impact since March 1, 2020 due to the COVID-19 public health emergency (see specific programs for details).
  • Must not have any outstanding business-related liens or judgments.

If you’ve driven by Hobby Lobby’s sprawling campus in southwest Oklahoma City, tucked away near the warehouse is the headquarters for the Museum of the Bible. The entrance at the front says “The Book.”

The city spokesperson gave a response regarding the reasoning of the program.

“The original premise behind the program was to help maintain jobs by providing support to businesses with employees based in Oklahoma City,” the spokesperson said. “[Also, the program] provides reimbursement up to $100,000 for loss of revenue or for payroll and other eligible expenses including business-related mortgage or rent, business related utilities and business-related personal protective equipment (PPE) since March 1, 2020. Lost revenue or expenses must be due to the COVID-19 public health crisis.”

The museum also had to “demonstrate negative financial impact since March 1, 2020 equal to or more than the amount of funds requested due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Any amount of eligible funding will be decreased by the amount of any previous award of other funding covering the same COVID-19 related expenses.”

Earlier this year, a spokesperson for the museum talked to Forbes Magazine about the $2 million to $5 million in Paycheck Protection Program money they received from the federal government. They said it was used to pay its employees from the issues dealt with over spring when the museum had to shut down for several months due to the pandemic.

KFOR reached out to the museum. We were directed to the museum’s media relations manager. The manager said in a statement, in part, “The museum is thankful for this critical assistance in light of pandemic-related revenue challenges due to the currently unfavorable tourism environment.” Furthermore, she said the funds were to “sustain museum services and employees in Oklahoma City.”

The spokesperson added that “Besides its museum services in Washington, DC, Museum of the Bible also performs curatorial, curriculum development, payroll, benefits, accounting/finance, IT and eCommerce services in Oklahoma City.”

The unfavorable environment continues to hurt attendance at the museum. Since reopening, the crowds haven’t returned and at the end of July the museum announced it was furloughing 21 percent of its workforce. We have no word on whether any of those furloughed workers lived in Oklahoma.

David Green, the owner of Hobby Lobby, funded the Museum of the Bible for $500 million. Forbes lists him as one of the richest people in the world. He has an estimated net worth of $7.6 billion.

Officials told us the museum’s application for funds in Oklahoma City was flagged and checked into. Ultimately, it was approved. We have submitted an open records request to see it. We’ll let you know when that’s delivered.

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