Services and support for entrepreneurs across Wyoming will be expanded as a result of a $2.4 million CARES Act Recovery assistance grant to the University of Wyoming from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA).
The grant, to be matched with $600,000 in local investment, is expected to create 368 jobs and generate $1 million in private investment.
“Supporting local strategies designed to create stronger and more resilient economies in response to the coronavirus pandemic is a top priority for EDA,” says Dennis Alvord, acting assistant secretary of commerce for economic development. “This project will broaden the University of Wyoming’s IMPACT 307 business incubator program to serve statewide clients through a hybrid virtual and in-person startup launch and entrepreneurial support structure.”
This project will expand business incubation and launch support services offered though IMPACT 307 by providing them in digital as well as physical environments to respond to negative economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic — and diversify the base of employers in the state. This is in line with the Wyoming Innovation Network (WIN), a new initiative announced last week by Gov. Mark Gordon in which UW and the state’s community colleges are collaborating to support and train entrepreneurs and new business startups — part of an overall effort to support and enhance the state’s economy and workforce.
“This funding from the EDA will allow us to respond to immediate needs in the state resulting from the pandemic, while setting the stage for future innovation and entrepreneurial efforts,” UW President Ed Seidel says. “The grant for IMPACT 307 dovetails nicely with the mission of the Wyoming Innovation Network, and we’re excited about the boost this funding will give us.”
IMPACT 307, with business incubators in Casper, Laramie and Sheridan, is a business development program administered by UW’s Office of Research and Economic Development.
“Through dedicated startup and entrepreneurial assistance, this federal grant will help develop an environment and the necessary knowledge for startups to flourish,” says Ed Synakowski, UW’s vice president for research and economic development. “Ultimately, it will help Wyoming’s economy become more resilient by increasing innovation and reducing dependence on any single industry.”
David Bohling, director of IMPACT-Laramie, says the EDA grant amplifies the efforts that have been built with Laramie County Community College and Central Wyoming College — and provides a path forward with the rest of the state.
“All seven community colleges, the Community College Commission, plus the Wyoming Economic Development Association, voiced their strong support for this mission,” Bohling says. “We look forward to partnering with them in executing the scope of the program.”
The grant is funded under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which provided EDA with $1.5 billion for economic assistance programs to help communities prevent, prepare for and respond to coronavirus. EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance, which is being administered under the authority of the bureau’s flexible Economic Adjustment Assistance program, provides a wide range of financial assistance to eligible communities and regions as they respond to and recover from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov) The mission of the EDA is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation’s regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.