Because demand far exceeded initial expectations, the Wyoming Business Council on Thursday closed the application period for small business owners asking for relief for economic damages as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a news release.

However, the Business Council will be able to pay all eligible requests for the Business Interruption Relief fund, with a recent infusion of $50 million authorized by Gov. Mark Gordon, according to the news release.

The Interruption Fund is one of the three relief programs administered by the Business Council and created by the Legislature in May to distribute $325 million from the federal Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act.

The other two funds are the Mitigation Fund and the Ongoing Relief Fund, which will open in mid-July for eligible businesses with 100 or fewer employees and nonprofits.

The Interruption Fund was specifically designated to help businesses that directly or indirectly lost revenue due to COVID-19 local or state government health orders, and it initially received $50 million. This fund provides up to $50,000 in funding to eligible businesses.

The Legislature gave Gordon the authority to reallocate the business relief funds, so on June 29 he moved an additional $50 million into the Interruption Fund because of the high demand.

Business Council CEO Josh Dorrell called the Interruption Fund both a success and a learning process as the program evolved to help those businesses hit hardest as they closed or retrenched during the first months of the pandemic.

More than 90 percent of applications came from businesses with 10 or fewer employees.

The 10 counties with the highest number of applicants also have the state’s highest gross domestic products:  Natrona, Teton, Laramie, Campbell, Fremont, Park, Sheridan, Sweetwater, Albany and Lincoln.

These are the counties and the number of applicants in those counties seeking Business Interruption Relief funding:

  • Natrona -- 548.
  • Teton -- 528.
  • Laramie -- 492.
  • Campbell -- 304.
  • Fremont -- 295.
  • Park -- 263.
  • Sweetwater -- 298.
  • Sheridan -- 248.
  • Albany -- 186.
  • Lincoln -- 119.
  • Converse -- 116.
  • Uinta -- 99.
  • Johnson -- 93
  • Sublette -- 93.
  • Goshen -- 92.
  • Carbon -- 82.
  • Washakie -- 79.
  • Big Horn -- 61.
  • Platte -- 52.
  • Crook -- 48.
  • Hot Springs -- 30.
  • Weston -- 31.
  • Niobrara -- 13.

The Business Council is processing the remaining applications as quickly as possible, and 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.

The payments are posted on the website created by State Auditor Kristi Racines.

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