Boardwalk Shuffle

A sign outside Miazga’s tells the story of how busy this summer is for Jackson businesses. People are waiting for restaurant seats, and drive-thru lanes have had vehicles lined up around the building and down the block.

Pitch Day prospects come in

It won’t be long before Silicon Couloir announces the entrepreneurs who will present their businesses at Pitch Day, the nonprofit’s annual “Shark Tank” style competition.

The nonprofit is making its selections for who will compete for cash prizes and judges and audience awards from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Sept. 30.

Due to COVID-19, this year’s Pitch Day will be a virtual event. But the pandemic didn’t quash interest.

“We have 11 applicants this year, which is a pretty healthy pool,” said Rebecca Reimers, who handles communications for Silicon Couloir. “We had 13 last year, but fewer than 11 in years past.”

The nonprofit sees the event getting better and better.

“The quality of the applicants seems to be setting a higher bar over the last couple of years,” said Gary Trauner, Silicon Couloir’s executive director.

Pitch Day applications were invited from the Wydaho region, Silicon Couloir’s focus area. Four of the applicants are from the recent Entrepreneurship Essentials class.

It’s traditional for entrepreneurs who are selected as Pitch Day finalists to receive several coaching sessions before the big day. This year the Pitch Day audience will get a glimpse of what goes on.

“Because the event will be virtual, we’re adding video to the event this year to show some of the ‘behind the scenes’ coaching and progress for finalists, so that should be fun and interesting for the audience,” Reimers said.

— Jennifer Dorsey

Relief grants open

The Wyoming Business Council began taking applications from businesses and nonprofits for grants to compensate for revenue losses and extra expenses resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

A total of $225 million is available, but the Business Council is reserving 50% of that for another round of applications at an unspecified date. By doing so it aims to help seasonal businesses, like those in tourism and agriculture, that may accrue additional losses and expenditures this year.

But businesses and nonprofits can apply only once to each of the grant programs, so they’ll face tough choices.

“We have no idea of how many folks will apply for this and when the second half will be available,” Business Council Finance Manager Josh Keefe said in a Zoom briefing Tuesday morning.

Josh Dorrell, the council’s CEO, said, “Once this money is gone there aren’t any other programs in the works to help right now. I want to make sure everyone is aware of that.”

Businesses and nonprofits will be requesting funds from one program, the Relief Fund, to cover losses from March 13 through the date of their application. They can’t request money to cover projected revenue losses, though they can factor projected extraordinary coronavirus-related expenses into their Relief Fund grant request.

The other program, the Mitigation Fund, will reimburse for virus-related health and safety expenses from March 1 to the date of a business’s or nonprofit’s application.

Grants of up to $300,000 from the Relief Fund are available to businesses with 100 or fewer full-time employees and nonprofits that have at least one full-time employee and don’t spend more than 50% of their time on lobbying. (Nonprofits and businesses with 101 to 110 employees will be eligible if they can show “good cause.”)

A total of $175 million is available in the Relief Fund, $50 million of which is earmarked for the kinds of businesses named in closure orders.

The $50 million Mitigation Fund is for businesses and nonprofits of any size to apply to for grants of up to $500,000 to reimburse for COVID-19-related safety and sanitation expenses.

Both funds were created by the state Legislature with money from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

— Jennifer Dorsey

Contact Jennifer Dorsey at jennifer@jhnewsandguide.com or 732-5908.

Jennifer Dorsey is chief copy editor and Business section coordinator. She worked in Washington, D.C., and Chicago before moving to the Tetons.

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