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Restarting Wyoming's Economy Will Be Slow Going, But State Aid Could Help

Flickr Creative Commons/The Red Baron

Last week, Gov. Mark Gordon gave variances to most counties allowing them to lift restrictions on some businesses, and officials said he'll lift more by the end of the week. But Wyoming Business Council CEO Josh Dorrell said it could take a while for the state's economy to truly get back on its feet, not just because customers are wary but because business owners will be trying to figure out how best to safely reopen.

"Tough times are going to be here. There it is going to be a challenge reopening some businesses," Dorrell said. "It's not going to make things just magically go away, and it's going to take time. But the sooner we can start that, the sooner that people can begin feeling comfortable, shopping smart, shopping safe, and making sure that they're getting the economy rolling again."

Dorrell said that's why it's important to start reopening right away. He said rather than fearing the influx of summer tourists, Wyoming businesses need to be creative about how to safely welcome them. He encourages them to seek guidance from local chambers of commerceor the Small Business Development Center at the University of Wyoming.

But Dorrell said, other financial aid is in the works as well.

Wyoming lawmakers are working to draft bills to distribute $1.25 billion-worth of federal CARES Act funds to Wyomingites as quickly as possible. Much of the funding will go to Wyoming businesses, some of which still haven't seen federal stimulus money yet, and others that have received funds but are feeling pressured to spend it by a fast-impending deadline. Dorrell said these new state-distributed funds could help.

"I think that's where that other funding from the state can come in, and perhaps be a little bit more flexible. I know that in the draft bill, there were no requirements on how much you could spend on certain elements within your business. It was really more up to the business owner on how they utilize that money," said Dorrell.

He said the goal of those funds is to get it out to employers quickly so they can afford to give employees back their jobs and reopen.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Melodie Edwards, at medward9@uwyo.edu.


Melodie Edwards is the host and producer of WPM's award-winning podcast The Modern West. Her Ghost Town(ing) series looks at rural despair and resilience through the lens of her hometown of Walden, Colorado. She has been a radio reporter at WPM since 2013, covering topics from wildlife to Native American issues to agriculture.
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