The Lander Chamber of Commerce (Chamber) and the Lander Economic Development Association (LEDA) have disbursed more than $16,000 in grants to Lander businesses suffering from the effects of COVID-19-related public health restrictions mandated by the State of Wyoming.
Elemental Performance + Fitness, Wind River Physical Therapy, Western Printing, JB’s Wild Wyoming, and The Tannery were among the businesses to receive grants from the Lander Small Business Relief & Recovery Fund. A restaurant and a specialty retailer also received grants, but they wished to remain anonymous.
The fund provides immediate financial relief in the form of grants to help business owners retain their businesses and their employees as a bridge of support between the waves of funding that have been made available by state and federal governments. Members of the Chamber and LEDA boards of directors managed the selection process for these emergency grants and prioritized support for the most vulnerable businesses.
Elemental Performance + Fitness co-owner Steve Bechtel was grateful and relieved to learn that he and his wife Ellen were awarded a $4,000 grant to keep their gym going.
“Steve and Ellen’s impressive pivot to an online presence through the state-mandated closure and their commitment to keeping their clients safe as Elemental reopens were the major factors in their receiving an R&R Fund Grant,” said LEDA Board Member Mike Lilygren. “Elemental’s an institution in Lander, and it’s awesome that we can help them.” Said Bechtel, “We’re installing a new industrial air filtration system that will completely refresh the indoor air in the gym every hour with a 100% kill rate for the COVID-19 virus.”
Right next door to Elemental, Chamber Executive Director Owen Sweeney delivered a $2,500 R&R Fund Grant to Ty Francis, owner of Wind River Physical Therapy. Sweeney explained, “Although Ty and his team saw a decreased patient load of about 85%, he was somehow able to keep his employees working, though at significantly reduced hours. The grant selection committee was impressed at Ty’s dedication to keeping his team working.” And things are beginning to improve. Noted Francis, “Just this week, the business has started to pick up. With elective surgeries up and running again, we are finally beginning to have new inbound clients.”
Another Lander institution, Western Printing, was awarded a grant of $2,500. “We bought into Western Printing, and it’s history,” said owners Don & Tracy Davison. “We had just saved enough last year to move to our new location on Main Street when COVID shut down the community, and we lost almost all of our normal business. We have to see some movement to keep going.”
Western Printing has seen more than half their income evaporate as most of their customers have been forced to close due to the pandemic. At the same time, with a reduced staff, they’ve been able to continue providing print products for the City of Lander, the Tribal offices, and the hospital and clinic, as well as the Chamber. “Don & Tracy are a Lander success story, and we’re happy that we can contribute to keeping the history of Western Printing going,” said Sweeney.
Funding for the Lander Small Business Relief & Recovery Grants has come from completely private sources including two foundations, individual Landerites, and fellow business owners. All funds from the initial round have been disbursed. Should additional funds become available for additional rounds of funding, the Chamber and LEDA will announce that publicly.
For more information on the Lander Small Business Relief & Recovery Fund and how you can donate, please visit the Lander United website.
Other Grant application recipients include:
The Tannery, JBs Wild Wyoming, a local restaurant, and a local specialty retailer.
Total money awarded through the Lander Small Business Relief and Recovery Fund: $16,250