By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
A popular Wyoming country music band, a Rock Springs veterinarian, an Afton bowling alley, a Cheyenne roller skating rink, and a number of restaurants and bars are among the 151 businesses to so far receive $50,000 through the state’s coronavirus relief fund.
The Wyoming Business Council, as of Tuesday, had distributed more than $12.4 million to 1,193 businesses under the state’s Business Interruption Stipend program, including the 151 companies that received the maximum allowable $50,000.
The relief program is one of three approved by Wyoming’s Legislature using the $1.25 billion in federal money made available to Wyoming through the coronavirus relief program approved by Congress.
The Business Interruption Stipend program is designed to provide assistance for any Wyoming businesses with 50 or fewer employees that suffered losses due to the coronavirus pandemic and related business shutdowns, along with the resulting general decline in the economy.
Among the businesses receiving the maximum grant was Chancey Williams Music LLC, the corporation of Wyoming musician Chancey Williams. Williams said on his website that he has been unable to tour for several months, but has returned to the road, playing in venues with crowd sizes limited to 250.
Rex Rammell, a Rock Springs veterinarian and former candidate for both Wyoming’s lone U.S. House seat and its governor’s office, also received $50,000, according to WBC figures posted on the state’s transparency website,
Dr. Rammell said the assistance was very welcome because his business declined significantly after the issuing of statewide health orders designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
“It was devastating to our business,” said Rammell, who owns vet clinics in Rock Springs and Pinedale, along with a “pet resort.” “Business just dropped like a rock. We had a little stuff, like emergencies, but for the most part the economy just shut down. I ws very grateful we got some assistance to help bail us out.”
Also receiving the maximum grant was the Cheyenne roller skating rink Roller City and the Afton bowling alley Skyview Lanes.
A number of restaurants and bars, which were forced to close for on-premises service by state health orders, also received the maximum grant, including Roadhouse Brewing in Jackson, the Tortilla Factory in Cheyenne, and First Street Station Inc., which runs several restaurants in Laramie.
Some child care businesses, many of which were forced to close or severely curtail their operations, also received the maximum grant through the program, including Cheyenne’s Promise Patch, Giggles & Wiggles Preschool in Casper and Pumpkin Patch Preschool in Wilson.
Other companies receiving the maximum grant included movie theaters, fitness clubs, catering companies, an electronics manufacturer in Riverton, a Jackson dude ranch, a yoga studio and an auction business.
The other grants made to more than 1,000 businesses ranged from $454 to $49,760.
The Legislature set aside $50 million for the Business Interruption Stipend Program. So far, 3,311 businesses have applied for assistance.
The state is planning to accept applications for the other two relief programs beginning in July. One program, the Coronavirus Business Relief Stipend, will provide up to $300,000 for companies that employ fewer than 100 people that were forced to shut down or curtail operations because of state health orders issued to slow the spread of coronavirus.
The other, The Coronavirus Mitigation Fund, is designed to compensate businesses for expenses they faced directly related to the coronavirus, such as the purchase of cleaning products, personal protective equipment and the cost of hiring new employees to comply with public health orders.