CASPER, Wyo. – Hundreds of local businesses are filing for federal assistance as the coronavirus pandemic takes its economic toll.
Recently, Congress rushed through a $2 trillion stimulus package that included grants and low interest loans for small businesses. Businesses with fewer than 500 employees are eligible, as well as some nonprofits.
“The response from applicants tells me it was needed, and it’s a viable solution for people,” said Kim DeVore, President of Jonah Bank.
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As of Tuesday afternoon, DeVore said the bank had received more than 230 applications, ranging from $8,900 to $3 million. The loans so far amount to a total of $29 million, and DeVore said some customers will start receiving money this week.
“It’s every single industry that you can think of,” she said.
“Our lenders worked over the weekend and they’re working at night to get in each of these applications,” she said. “I see appraisers, veterinarians, energy services, home care, insurance, accountant, law office, dance studio…because if you think about it, everyone is affected by this.”
One of the grants, called a payroll protection plan, allows businesses to maintain payroll for eight weeks and does not require payback if requirements are met. Another loan is an expansion of an economic injury disaster loan program. There is also a mortgage assistance program available.
Local banks will carry the financial burden of the loans until they get reimbursed by the government.
“This is local bank’s liquidity, this is our funds that we’re lending out,” DeVore said.
“This is not a money maker for us, this is actually pretty tough to use our own funds and liquidity to do this, but it’s the right thing to do,” said DeVore.
Greg Dixson, President of Hilltop National Bank, says interest in the loans there has also been very high.
“In fact we just can’t take them all, we have quite a few applicants,” he said.
Dixson highly recommends that everyone applying should carefully read the instructions and submit a complete application. Detailed guidance is available at Hilltop’s website, as well as the SBA website.
“I encourage everyone to educate themselves about the process, because if they don’t comply with the rules they may not get that forgiveness,” he said.
Dixson says he sees the longterm need for local businesses won’t end soon.
“This is not going to be over when the ‘all clear’ sounds,” he said. “It’s going to be a challenge, it depends on how long this thing lasts.”
Both DeVore and Dixson have high praise for the local SBA office, and they both recommend small business owners to move quickly if they’d like to access the programs.
“Community banks are stepping up,” said Dixson.
“It’s never too late until they say the money’s gone,” said DeVore.
The original version of this article misspelled Greg Dixson’s name. It has been corrected. Oil City News regrets the error.
The Latest Statistics from the Wyoming Department of Health:
What to do if you are feeling sick: In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Casper-Natrona County Health Department says that people who are feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms should contact their primary physician.
If you do not have a primary care provider, and live in Natrona County, please contact the COVID-19 hotline, operated by the Casper-Natrona County Department of Health. The line is open Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm 577-9892. Hotline services are intended for Natrona County residents and may not be able to provide specific information to persons calling from out of county.
Officials ask that you please do not self-report to the Emergency Room. Persons experiencing problems breathing should call 9-11.
For general inquiries and non-symptom related questions about COVID-19, please contact the Casper-Natrona County Health Department via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Practice Social Distancing by putting distance between yourself and other people. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Stay home if you’re sick
- Cover coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
- Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
A list of area closures attributed to COVID-19 are available here.