Demand for COVID business relief fund off the charts

WYOMING — Wyoming small business owners’ demand for COVID-19 Business Relief Interruption funding has far exceeded initial expectations, but the Wyoming Business Council will be able to pay all eligible requests with the recent infusion of $50 million by Governor Mark Gordon.

About 4,211 applications totaling $104.6 million have been submitted for the Interruption Fund since June 8. The Interruption Fund is one of the three COVID-19 Business Relief Programs, administered by the Wyoming Business Council, the Wyoming Legislature created in May to distribute $325 million in federal CARES Act funding.

The legislation gave the governor the ability to quickly pivot funds within the overall Business Relief Programs to address unexpected needs. The original funding allocated for the Interruption Fund was $50 million. On June 29, the governor moved an additional $50 million into the Interruption Fund, bringing the total dollars available to $100 million. The Business Council is working with the Governor’s Office to transfer additional funds to cover all eligible applications.

Business Council CEO Josh Dorrell called the Interruption Fund both a success and a learning process.

“After Governor Mark Gordon signed the legislation into law on May 20, we were able to quickly develop rules and execute a program to help those businesses hit hardest during the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic response,” he said. “This initial $100 million infusion will help keep small businesses open and workers employed, bolstering Wyoming’s overall economy.”

Dorrell added, “The Business Council couldn’t have helped these businesses without the tremendous support of Governor Gordon, legislators, State Auditor’s Office, Secretary of State’s Office, private industry associations, economic development agencies, chambers and all our partners.”

So far 2,082 small businesses in Wyoming have received $49.01 million from the Interruption Fund, which stopped receiving applications at 11:59 p.m. July 2. More than 90 percent of applications came from businesses with 10 or fewer employees.

The 10 counties with the highest number of applicants are: Natrona, Teton, Laramie, Campbell, Fremont, Park, Sheridan, Sweetwater and Albany and Lincoln.

The Business Council is processing the remaining Interruption Fund applications as quickly as possible. Businesses can expect to receive payment 21 business days after their application is reviewed. However, the average time between when an application is reviewed and funds are delivered to business owners has been about 10 days.

While the Interruption Fund has closed, the Business Council expects to open the Ongoing Relief Fund to eligible businesses with 100 or fewer employees and nonprofits in mid-July.

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