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The below is a general summary of the events and discussion at the May 2020 OKGIT meeting. It does not represent the official minutes, which will be distributed at a later date.

Due to public health concerns, the group held the meeting over Zoom video conferencing. After the approval of the March 2020 meeting’s minutes, Chris Morriss gave an update regarding the finances of the organization. During the financial report, Chris and Jared informed the OKGIT membership of finances for March and April 2020.

Amidst discussion of the treasurer report, Douglas Price, chair of the membership committee reported that Anthony Cambas from Oklahoma State University had resigned and there were no new perspective members considered for membership at this time.

During the marketing committee report, John VanPool requested for GIT members to answer some questions about how people and organizations have reacted to COVID-19. This information would be placed on our social media pages. John Vanpool also asked GIT members to check their bios to make sure they’re up to date. Anyone interested in answering these questions or needing to update their biography are encouraged to contact John VanPool or Executive Director, Jared Scism.

The Cultural and Education Committee reported on the inaugural GIT ambassador, Olivia Nguyen and the work she has done as a GIT ambassador over the past year. Douglas Price also stated he announced the ambassador program to students at International Recognition Day at the State Capitol, and we now have three candidates for future programs.
During the Program Committee report, Shalon Simmons announced Dottie Overal from Small Business Administration will be our program speaker at the July meeting. Dottie will be speaking about the CARES Act and incentives for small businesses.

Rico Buchli informed the membership that the Oklahoma Consular Corps had been on hold and that there had been no updates since the March Governor’s International Team meeting. Enrique Villar Gambetta, Honorary Consul of Peru also informed the membership about a coordination between OSU and Peruvian fisherman that would send saltwater fish to Oklahoma to be processed by Native Americans in order to help tribal nations grow economically. A presentation about this partnership can be found here.

Jamie Cummings from Oklahoma Department of Agriculture updated the group about a beef task force that is working on creating a beef processing plant in Oklahoma. She also mentioned a program called “Localhoma” was created to promote local producers. Jamie informed the group that most food exporting programs have been canceled and that OK Ag has been working to refund travel and registration fees. Jamie closed by informing the group that Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture will be talking with Azerbaijan to focus on educational exchanges with Oklahoma State University. Azerbaijan is also planning an agriculture forum in November and hoping Oklahomans can travel there.

Jesse Garcia from the Oklahoma Department of Commerce informed the membership that many of the ODOC’s trade shows for the year had been canceled and that Jennifer Springer was promoted to Director of the Business Group. Jesse also provided the group an update regarding the ODOC’s 2019 Global Report. Jesse finished his report by asking the group to inform him of any companies interested in doing business in Mexico. To contact Jesse, click here.

Dr. Cathleen Skinner had several updates from the Oklahoma Department of Education in regards to COVID-19. Dr. Skinner stated that reopening the state did not change school closures for the Spring. However changes in summer in fall such as schools starting earlier or later may occur. OSDE has also recognized a huge digital divide between districts since COVID-19. OSDE is working to support different districts, families, and students to fill in the learning gaps. Dr. Skinner also mentioned that some school districts would be holding graduation ceremonies later this year and OSDE was also developing a statewide program.
Dr. Skinner closed her remarks by telling the OKGIT membership the Seal of Biliteracy was approved by the Board of Education on March 25th and waiting for the Governor’s signature.

Debbie Blanke reported that the regents transitioned 175,000 college students online who were offered a pass/no-pass option. Debbie also revealed that higher education will see at 3.9% cut in FY’ 21. A website that shows how each university is responding to COVID-19 statewide can be viewed here.

Chief Protocol Officer Chris Morriss reported that Oklahoma received a surprise visit from Taiwan to donate 100,000 masks to the state of Oklahoma.

The U.S. Department of Trade reported that they are continuing to assist Oklahoma companies during this time by providing assistance virtually (Telephone, Microsoft Teams/Skype for Business/Cisco Webex). A complete report from Marcus is listed below.

Paycheck Protection Program (NEW Funding Authorized 4/24/20 – check availability):

  • If you are a small business (e.g., <500 employees, or other conditions) that needs help to cover payroll, rent and utilities for eight weeks, click here. This is a 24-month loan with a 1% interest rate, and may be forgiven if at least 75% of the funds are used for payroll and related costs. To find an eligible lender by state, click here.

Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) (NEW Funding Authorized for Agricultural Businesses – check availability):
 If you are an agricultural small business the EIDL are working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue. Applicants for Economic Injury Disaster Loans may also be eligible for an advance for up to $10,000. This loan advance will not have to be repaid for eligible applicants. Apply at SBA.gov/disaster

SBA Loan Debt Relief: If you are a small business that has a current or plan to get a future SBA loan, SBA will pay the principal and interest on loans through 9/27/20. Click here for more information.

SBA Express Bridge Loans: This loan allows small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000.

EXIM Programs for Exporters: You may have also seen that Exim Bank has made some adjustments to their export finance programs, including extending deadlines and streamlining the application requirements. If I can help facilitate an introduction to an Exim Bank Specialist, I would be glad to do so.

Bridge Financing Program, Pre-delivery/Pre-Export Program, Supply Chain Financing, and Working Capital Guarantees and revised procedures. Companies of all sizes are eligible to apply here.

Rural Community Resources: And for rural communities, USDA and its Federal partners have programs that can be used to provide immediate and long-term assistance to rural communities affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. These programs can support recovery efforts for rural residents, businesses and communities through technical, training, and management assistance; financial assistance; and state and local assistance. Click here for more information. Rural Communities Resource Guide

Lastly, click here to see the operating status for U.S. Commercial Service offices around the world.

Chuck Mills also mentioned that the Oklahoma World Trade Conference is set for September 24th in Tulsa.

Following the committee reports, Jim Collard mentioned there was nothing new to report on the Consular Summit. At this time, the Governor’s International Team is uncertain when the next summit will take place. Further discussions about the Consular Summit will occur at the July meeting

Chairman, Scott Thompson reported the GIT submitted our annual reports to Oklahoma Business Roundtable. At this time it is uncertain whether GIT will receive funds from BRT for the next year. As a result, GIT will form a fundraising committee. Anyone interested in leading or helping with this committee should contact Jared Scism.

Executive Director, Jared Scism informed the membership that dues and sponsorship could now be paid on the OKGIT website. Members interested in sponsoring the OKGIT may visit https://okgit.com/sponsorships/. For further questions, contact Jared Scism at theokgit@gmail.com.

In closing, Jared Scism reported several international students studying at universities in Oklahoma are struggling to purchase groceries or pay rent because they cannot receive money from family or return home. After brief discussion, a committee was formed by GIT members working at universities to determine the best way for GIT to assist Oklahoma international students moving forward.

Upcoming meetings are as follows:

  • July 21st from 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM at Dept of Commerce (TBD)
  • September 15th from 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM at Dept of Commerce
  • November 17th from 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM at Dept of Commerce

For our program, Scott Stone from Euler Hermes presented about the ways Euler Hermes offers trade credit insurance and solutions worldwide.

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