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Relief program provides $82M; more than half of applicants left empty-handed

By Camille Erickson

Casper Star-Tribune

Via- Wyoming News Exchange

CASPER – A coronavirus-related relief program aimed at pumping money into hurting businesses in Wyoming has ended. But over half of all eligible applicants did not end up receiving the money they had hoped for.

Demand for the aid simply outstripped available funding, the Wyoming Business Council said in a news release published Wednesday.

The state launched the Endurance Fund back on Nov. 2 to help businesses and nonprofits left out of an initial wave of aid for businesses, known as the COVID-19 Business Relief Program awards. The state allocated $24 million to the Endurance Fund. That money was drawn from the $1.25 billion delivered to Wyoming in the first federal coronavirus relief bill this spring.

However, grant requests from the state’s businesses far exceeded the amount dedicated to the Endurance Fund relief program.

When the application period closed on Nov. 18, the Wyoming Business Council had received applications from 2,197 eligible businesses and nonprofits.

After seeing this high level of need, the state shifted additional funding to the program, but even the increased pot of money was not sufficient.

Together, the applicants had requested a total of $215.7 million, over double what was ultimately made available, according to the Wyoming Business Council.

Ultimately, a total of 981 Wyoming businesses and nonprofits received a total of $82.9 million in grants through the Endurance Fund relief program.

The council prioritized the businesses with the greatest need, and those that had not benefited from the first wave of state-led business relief.

“We are very thankful Governor Gordon and the Wyoming Legislature dedicated a large amount of the state’s CARES Act dollars to economic and business relief,” Josh Dorrell, CEO of Wyoming’s Business Council said in a statement. “Wyoming is known as an extremely business-friendly state, and the Business Relief Program demonstrates we are willing to put our money where our businesses need it. Keeping our state and our businesses open has been a priority of this administration, but we also understand that focusing on health and safety in our communities is extremely important as COVID numbers are rising.”

The business council said it would continue to search for additional help for struggling businesses as the pandemic continues into 2021.