Pandemic Continues To Strike Oklahoma's Economy, Businesses Struggle


Thursday, June 4th 2020, 7:57 pm
By: Chinh Doan


TULSA, Okla. - The COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to take a financial toll on Oklahoma's economy.

The state’s latest report stated gross tax collections were down 14 percent last month compared to May of 2019.

The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission also reported it processed an unprecedented 180,000 claim weeks just this past weekend.

Many businesses have struggled over the last three months, and some are hopeful they can survive.

Others, like Stone Trucking Company, said it has no choice.

The company announced it is permanently closing its location in Kiefer by July 3, and all 51 employees will lose their jobs.

In a June 3 notice to Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development, the company wrote:

“As a result of the unforeseeable, dramatic downturn in business caused by the coronavirus natural disaster, its resulting negative economic impact upon the oil and gas industry upon which our business depends, and the recent failure of an opportunity to sell the company to allow for continued operations, we are writing to inform you that Stone Trucking Company is closing its Kiefer, Oklahoma facility. We were unable to provide more advance notice of this action because these circumstances were not reasonably foreseeable until recently when the full scope of COVID-19’s impact upon our business became clear and the sale of the business fell through. The entire facility will be closed and all employees at the facility will be impacted. This closure is expected to be permanent, and the expected date of the first separation is June 3, 2020.”

News On 6 reached out to the Kiefer location and corporate office in Alabama. Staffed declined to comment.

Meanwhile, Shuffles Board Game Cafe in downtown Tulsa has been doing all it can to stay open.

Owner Eric Fransen said he has wiped out his savings, refinanced his house and taken out loans.

"We did start to make a profit first quarter this year, and that was all erased through COVID-19,” said Fransen. “I do have hopes that we will move being in the red, to breaking even, to back in the black hopefully by fourth quarter this year." 

Fransen said after sharing his struggles on social media, people from all over the country bought gift cards from his business, and some asked staff to pay it forward by giving the gift cards to others.

Fransen said this Saturday, at the business’ two-year anniversary celebration, staff will give away the donated gift cards to say thank you to supporters.