By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
Two programs set up to help Wyoming businesses in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic are almost out of money, but the distribution of federal relief funds to help the state is continuing, Gov. Mark Gordon said Wednesday.
Gordon, during a briefing, said the state is working to use the federal coronavirus relief money for items such as broadband service improvement, medical facility upgrades and agriculture relief as the two business relief programs still in operation draw to a close.
“Our two business relief programs are still open, but funding is beginning to run low,” he said. “These funds are open for small businesses and we are trying to be as accommodating with small businesses as we possibly can. We want to be sure the people of Wyoming and businesses of Wyoming have every opportunity to relieve some of the burdens placed on them by COVID-19.”
Of the $1.25 billion sent to the state through congressional action, the state has distributed $829 million, Gordon said.
Much of the money has been distributed through three business relief programs approved by the Legislature during a special session earlier this year.
Of the two programs still in operation, one is designed to offset the impacts on Wyoming businesses with up to 50 employees of business restrictions imposed to help limit the spread of coronavirus and the other is designed to compensate companies for the direct costs of dealing with the coronavirus, such as the purchase of protective equipment.
The state is required to spend the full $1.25 billion by the end of the year and the Legislature gave Gordon the authority starting Sept. 15 to spend any of the funds not already spent.
Gordon said one program that will use money will launch next week, when meat processing plant owners will be able to apply for funds to expand their operations. Gordon said meat producers around the state have been able to have their meat processed because of shortages of processing facilities.
The state has also used some of the money to expand broadband Internet service to rural areas of Wyoming.
“I’m pleased to report that some of the most rural parts of Wyoming will now have connectivity when these projects are completed,” he said.
The state has already started work to get some of the federal money into the hands of local governments and medical facilities