OKLAHOMA CITY – An economic development organization in Duncan has donated $600,000 to food banks and struggling businesses in Stephens County hampered by the coronavirus pandemic and the downturn in the oil and gas industry.
The Duncan Area Economic Development Foundation (DAEDF) has been distributing checks to food banks and scores of businesses “to ignite the economy of Stephens County,” said Lyle Roggow, president and CEO of the foundation.
“Small businesses are the foundation of our communities, and it is critical that we help them during this unprecedented time,” he said. “Working with the DAEDF board of directors and committee members, we developed the Re-Start Program to quickly get funds to businesses in the area so they can continue to maintain their operations and hopefully restart sooner than later.”
All of the funds were generated locally and none of the grants was derived from sales taxes, Roggow said. “These were local funds generated from renting and leasing seven properties the DAEDF owns.”
A little over one-fifth of the money, $125,000, was sent to food pantries in Dun- can, Marlow and Comanche “right before Easter,” Roggow said. “There’s a lot of need right now.”
The balance, $475,000, was distributed to 131 businesses throughout Stephens County. A qualifying company had to be located in Stephens County and have been “negatively impacted” by COVID-19 and/or the slump in the energy sector.
“We decided that instead of focusing just on Duncan, we could help Stephens County as a whole,” Roggow said.
Companies in Duncan received approximately 75% of the funds that were earmarked for businesses, because most of the applicants were from Duncan. Nevertheless, 25% of the funds were shared with businesses in Bray, Velma, Marlow and Comanche “because many of them buy their supplies and sell their products in Duncan, and many of their customers shop in Duncan,” Roggow said.
“For a small business like ours, we’re not a big corporation, we’re a small mom and pop shop, so these funds are quite helpful,” Ryan Bell, owner of Cotton Blossom Winery in Marlow, told the Texoma News Network. “We’re going to use this for getting inventory built back up and all that fun stuff for hopefully a great summer ahead of us.”
The businesses that qualified for the Re-Start Program received checks ranging from $600 to $5,000,” Roggow said.
Recipients of the grants represented a cross-section of the business sector and included the arts, auto, contractors, daycare, event venues, financial services, hotels, medical, restaurants, retail merchants, salon owners/operators, services sector, and sporting activities.
The funds can be used to pay utility bills, buy supplies, for employee payrolls, “and some of the applicants needed to get caught up with their mortgage payments,” Roggow said. “We are investing in our county.”