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Legislature authorize up to $325 million in CARES Act relief for Wyoming small businesses

Sherrie’s Place owner Sherrie Lopez talks to a customer on the first day of outdoor dining on Tuesday, May 5, 2020, in downtown Casper. Tuesday was the first time Lopez had been able to open her restaurant since it closed in March when much of the state shut down to slow the spread of coronavirus. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

CASPER, Wyo. — The Wyoming Legislature have passed legislation which would direct $325 million in CARES Act funding or future federal funding received by the state to provide COVID-19 pandemic relief for small businesses.

House Enrolled Act No. 1 will move to Governor Mark Gordon’s desk for consideration after moving through the May 15-16 special session legislative process. The legislation would create three relief programs for businesses impacted by the pandemic.

The funding would be made available from the $1.25 billion in CARES Act funding if Senate File 1001, which authorizes the appropriation of that funding is signed into law.

The largest of the three programs was initially slated to be a $175 million coronavirus business relief loan program. However, the legislature increased this program’s appropriation to $225 million and turned the program into a stipend than a loan with some in the state’s banking industry indicating that Wyoming banks are already overwhelmed managing a high volume of Small Business Administation Paycheck Protection Program loans.

The three programs which the legislation would create include:

  • $50 million for the Wyoming business interruption stipend program
  • $225 million for the coronavirus business relief stipend program
  • $50 million for the coronavirus mitigation stipend program

The three stipend programs would be administered by the Wyoming Business Council and businesses would be required to certify they are eligible. The WBC could still partner with financial institutions to help administer the stipends.

Further information about the three stipend programs is as follows:

  • $50 million Wyoming business interruption stipend program:
    • Wyoming owned and operated businesses with 50 full time employees or less as of March 31 who experienced interruptions due to COVID-19 public health orders
    • $20,000 to maximum $50,000 awards (depending on number of employees)
    • preference given to businesses which didn’t receive federal PPP funding
  • $225 million coronavirus business relief loan program
    • Wyoming owned and operated businesses with 100 full time employees or less as of March 31 who were “adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic or by required closures”
    • stipends up to$300,000
  • $50 million coronavirus mitigation stipend program
    • “to reimburse COVID-related expenses that an eligible business actually incurred between March 1, 2020 and December 1, 2020”
    • can include costs of cleaning products, personal protective equipment, training expenses, etc.
    • maximum $500,000

The Wyoming Department of Health provides COVID-19 case, variant, death, testing, hospital and vaccine data online. The department also shares information about how the data can be interpreted. COVID-19 safety recommendations are available from the CDC.