By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
Almost 2,300 Wyoming businesses have collected more than $73 million in aid funds under a program designed to help companies recover from the coronavirus pandemic, according to state figures.
Figures posted on the Wyoming Transparency Platform show that as of Thursday, just over $73 million had been sent to 2,277 companies under the Business Interruption Stipend program.
And more assistance is on the way.
While the program originally set aside $50 million to provide grants of up to $50,000 for businesses, Gov. Mark Gordon announced Monday he would make another $50 million available for the program.
“This global pandemic continues to have significant impacts on the economy and on the lives of people in Wyoming,” Gordon said in a news release. “These grants keep people employed and help small business owners stay resilient while respecting the health orders that protect lives.”
The Wyoming Business Council, which manages the program, said in a news release Friday that by the application deadline of midnight Thursday, 4,211 applications for a total of $104.6 million had been received.
The WBC said it would continue to process applications for the program as quickly as possible.
The Business Interruption Stipend program was one of three approved by the Legislature to help Wyoming businesses affected by the pandemic. Funding for the programs comes from $1.25 billion in federal coronavirus assistance funds sent to the state.
The Business Interruption Stipend program is designed specifically for businesses employing 50 or fewer people.
Grants range from $1,000 to $50,000 and as of Thursday, 547 businesses had received the maximum grant.
Many of the companies receiving the maximum grant are involved in the hospitality industry — such as hotels and restaurants — and the entertainment business. However, requests came from other industries, such as building contractors and communications-marketing companies.
The busiest day of the program so far has been June 25, when 440 businesses received $11 million.
The state’s other two relief programs are scheduled to start later this month.
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.