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Wyoming Business Council talks about relief programs as local business owner calls for help

Published: May. 4, 2021 at 6:57 PM CDT
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - Since the pandemic began, the Wyoming Business Council has been providing relief funds to many businesses across Wyoming. Now many of those relief programs are wrapping up and WBC CEO, Josh Dorrell, provided an update on what their current plan of action is.

“Right now what we’re doing is, we’re really listening to what businesses are needing, and what we can expect from the American Rescue Plan Act, and trying to figure out how do we best utilize that to provide some stimulus to our communities, and maybe more stimulus and less relief so we can really look to the future.”

WBC is also currently in the process of auditing business who have received the relief funds, which has led to some business owners having to pay some of the funds back. Dorrell explained that in most of the cases, business owners set up estimated future expense plans and may not have used all the funds received, so needed to pay back what was not used. He said in a few cases, there were new business owners who did not have enough data to know how much relief to receive. Dorrell said WBC did make it clear to business owners that funds might need to be paid back.

“That was made clear at the beginning, and made clear throughout, that these future expenditure funds really needed to be utilized for covid relief and covid expenses, and could not be used for others.”

Nipa Hut is a Cheyenne, veteran owned, Filipino restaurant that has been known throughout the community for years. The restaurant has been at its current location of 4014 Central Ave. since December of 2019. Its owner, Gervacio “Jhun” Vinluan, said they took the relief money for one reason, to survive.

“I want to survive so I took the money, probably that was my decision. It’s nobodies fault, they advised me but I want to help the community.”

Through a Business Relief Program Repayment Plan, Nipa Hut now owes the WBC almost $175,000 which is due by June 30, 2021. Vinluan said he was not aware that they would have to repay the money received.

“The COVID put us in quicksand up to here (motioning to his chest). Then when we found out we have to repay them the money that was supposed to help us out, we’re up to here now (motioning above his mouth, showing they are barely breathing), we need help.”

Vinluan is encouraging the community to reach out to state and local leaders to show them that small businesses are continuing to struggle, and need help.

When it comes to business owners who are not able to get the funds in by the deadline, Dorrell said he cannot go into the specifics of it right now, but each businesses information (amount paid up to then and amount that’s still left) will be given to the State Attorney General, who will decide the next steps.

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