By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
As the first of three state coronavirus relief program nears its end, the state has delivered more than $95 million to more than 3,800 businesses, according to Wyoming Business Council figures.
Figures posted on the state’s transparency website show that as of July 16, almost $95.2 million had been delivered to 3,812 businesses under the state’s Business Interruption Stipend program.
The program was one of three created by the Legislature to put money given the state under the federal coronavirus relief program in the hands of businesses whose operations were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Business Interruption Stipend made up to $50,000 available for Wyoming companies employing fewer than 50 that lost money because of public health orders issued to slow the spread of coronavirus.
The program opened on June 8 and applications for assistance were accepted until July 2. The first of the grants were delivered to businesses on June 10 and the deliveries continued daily until July 16.
Tom Dixon, a spokesman for the WBC, which manages the program, said a few applications are still being reviewed.
When the program began, officials planned to distribute a total of $50 million, but it soon became clear applications would exceed that amount, so Gov. Mark Gordon moved another $50 million into the program.
According to state figures, 988 businesses have so far obtained the maximum $50,000 grant, many of them restaurants, bars and entertainment companies, such as roller skating rinks, bowling alleys and movie theaters. The state’s public health orders closed such businesses for several weeks.
Other businesses receiving the maximum grant included law firms, medical clinics and dental clinics.
Some of the companies receiving the maximum grant in the latest payout included Carpets Plus in Green River, Khan Hotel Investments in Gillette, Ancora Law in Cody and Evolution Fitness in Sinclair.
The WBC has finished its rules for the next relief program, the “Wyoming Business Relief” program, which the agency said will open soon.
Under the program, companies employing up to 100 people — as well as nonprofit agencies — will be able to apply for grants of up to $300,000 to offset losses they suffered because of public health orders or coronavirus-related expenses, such as the costs for extra cleaning.
The third program, the “Mitigation Fund” will pay companies up to $500,000 to reimburse them for employee and customer health and safety expenses directly related to the coronavirus.