Community Resilience

Community Resilience

All over Wyoming, people are hurting right now. But in times of need, our small, tight-knit communities and local business owners shine brightest. We’ve gathered some of the stories we’ve learned about or been part of in the last few weeks, and we’ll be highlighting them here and on social media in the days to come.

We know this is just a fraction of the compassionate, creative ways Wyoming is responding in the face of this crisis. If you have a story to share about how your community or your favorite local business is helping others in a time of great need, please email wbc-marketing@wyo.gov


Cody small business promoter Quinn Rivera created a clever way to incentivize people to patronize local businesses. For every $15 in gift cards somebody purchases and brings to Rivera’s store – Libations – he enters their name in for a prize package.

“We know our community is built by a lot of local small business owners who invest so much back into our community and they’re always putting money back into our community to help us grow,” Rivera said. “And so, right now, our small businesses need us to band together, to drive revenue to these people who we know and love and who employ our family and our friends.”

 

The COVID-19 Treasure Hunt group on Facebook began with $100 in a jar in the Oregon Basin outside Cody. After burying it, Joe Kondelis provided a few clues to the community, who responded in droves. He suggested whoever found it should spend it at a local business to support the local economy.

Since then, that $100 has been spent several times over as some people have taken the money, replaced it with additional funds and even split the cash prize and taken some of it to a new location for it to replicate and continue the fun.

Pinedale company Enviremedial Services, Inc., is retrofitting shipping containers into mobile, self-contained medical isolation units.

Since opening operations in Pinedale in 2017, ESI has been building self-contained wash basins that recycle water for military bases, and it has adapted its technology to provide rain-harvest systems that provide potable water without or without available power.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, the company has shifted its focus to manufacturing the isolation units, which can be adapted as additional hospital rooms or for jails, homeless centers or other places that require additional housing for people who need to be isolated but not necessarily hospitalized. The company is manufacturing units that can be connected to existing utilities as well as off-grid solar-powered units.

“The advantage of these mobile SCIUs are that, with the COVID-19 situation extremely fluid, these units can be moved anywhere to meet needs of local, state and federal agencies,” ESI President Geoff Keogh told the Pinedale Roundup. “It is much more economical to build units that can be moved where the need is.”

 

Cheyenne personalization and printing company Trophy Creative designed a t-shirt logo with phrasing “here for good,” and is selling the shirts on its website. Local companies and nonprofits can sign up for free to participate and receive $10 of each sale. The T-shirt buyers can designate which company they want their $10 to benefit. The project helps Trophy Creative bring in revenue and support other local companies and nonprofits.

“This little project is giving us all the feels,” a company rep said on their Facebook page. "We specifically chose the strength and longevity of the buffalo to represent our small businesses and the heart located in the place that has our heart: Cheyenne. So, when you purchase a shirt you're supporting a small business with big dreams. There's no business logo because when you wear this shirt, you're representing all of us - a community with plans to be here for good.”

The Wyoming Technology Coronavirus Coalition, led by the Array School of Technology in Cheyenne, is coordinating and deploying volunteers that have taken on a handful of causes including creating an easy-to-use app for people to access telehealth with Stitches Acute Care clinics in the region, 3D printing medical masks and coordinating medical supply donation drives.

 

Sheridan company Kennon Products, Inc., is manufacturing Personal Protective Equipment for Sheridan Memorial Hospital like N95 masks, fabric masks, gowns and more in addition to their usual products.

“We are ramping up production to create 1,500 hospital gowns for Sheridan Memorial Hospital,” CEO Joe Wright told Sheridan Media. “We reverse engineered the gowns they use and will be delivering those.”

Many broadband companies have stepped up to help. With the surge in home-internet use, the Wyoming Business Council’s broadband manager, Ryan Kudera, said some companies have told him they’ve seen their installation and service calls jump by as much as four times their usual levels. And most broadband companies operating in Wyoming have signed the FCC’s Keep Americans Connected Pledge.

  • Union Wireless has boosted broadband speeds to the highest available for all its customers for free until May 16. They’ve also set up free wifi hotspots at local schools and Union retail stores that are available for customers and non-customers.
  • Wind River Internet purchased a 3D printer and made its own masks and protective equipment Visionary
  • Large national companies operating in Wyoming including Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile have lowered prices, waived fees and found creative broadband solutions across the state, such as setting up wifi hotspots on school buses and parking them in neighborhoods.
 

The University of Wyoming has stepped up in many ways, including:

  • The School of Pharmacy has produced hand sanitizer for local fire stations and clinics in need
  • A UW medical supply drive has gathered more than 34,000 in gloves, goggles, gowns and other essential supplies
  • The UW Wyoming Telehealth Network is connecting health care providers with patients to answer questions and diagnosis coronavirus
  • The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources is helping collect necessary supplies for coronavirus test kits for the Wyoming Public Health Laboratory
  • The Student Innovation Center has produced 3D printed surgical masks for 19 different places in need across the state
  • Students at the College of Health and Sciences have volunteered at the Educational Health Center of Wyoming to help screen patients and run errands for the elderly
  • The Associated Students of Social Work have sponsored Supportive Talk and Resources or those struggling and need someone to talk to

Downtown Laramie has created a virtual shoppers’ guide for local shopping and pick-up dining options from the comfort and safety of home.

The Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce created the “Cheyenne Relief Fund” in partnership with the City of Cheyenne, Jonah Bank, United Way of Laramie County and other local organizations and businesses. The donation-based fund had raised more than $50,000 as of mid-April. A committee through United Way of Laramie County is going through applications and distributing the funds.

“The goal of this fund is to help Cheyenne area residents avoid evictions and financial hardships if they’re unable to work and unable to qualify for federal assistance,” Mayor Marian Orr said.

Goshen County Economic Development provided $26,500 in microgrants from their ¼ cent Economic Development Fund to 47 businesses.

Downtown Cheyenne/DDA has awarded 27 covid-19 Emergency Assistance grants for up to $2,500 to downtown businesses.

Carbon County is offering grants of $500 to $2,500 to businesses that employ fewer than 50 people.

The City of Laramie is offering grants and loans to local businesses through public funds as well as private donations.

The Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce recently challenged local business owners to #Checkon2 by reaching out to two individuals (friends in business, associates, clients, employees, etc.) and simply check on them. Participants ask how their two people are doing, offer to purchase a carry-out item from a local restaurant or purchase a gift card, ask if they need help and spread positivity before challenging them to contact two more community members.

“Check On 2 is designed to become a chain-reaction which will foster a support system within the greater Cheyenne business community,” said Dale Steenbergen, chamber CEO. “The new campaign leverages individual actions to help protect the existing business environment and maintain the spirit of the greater Cheyenne area.”

The Wyoming Business Council provided funding for the raw materials and distribution costs of manufacturing and delivering hand sanitizer.

Wyoming distillers across the state will use this money to make hand sanitizer and provide it for free to county emergency management offices statewide.

“This collaborative effort represents the Wyoming spirit we all know and love,” Governor Gordon said. “Folks banding together in challenging economic times to support public health and advance the greater good. We also recognize that other industries are stepping up and that this situation is temporary.”

The Worland Senior Center is keeping its van drivers working and supporting local businesses by setting up a delivery service for local restaurants. Residents can call the restaurant and place an order, and for a small fee, a driver will pick up and deliver the meal to the customer's home.

The Hole Quarantine is a movement that allows Jackson Hole residents to donate funds that are spent at local businesses to buy food and gifts for healthcare workers and local families in need.

New West KnifeWorks owner Corey Milligan founded We Are Jackson Hole, a campaign to teach social distancing to the Teton Valley community and produce more than 11,000 bottles of hand sanitizer. To date, We Are JH has produced 350 gallons of hand sanitizer and distributed it for free in the Teton Counties of Wyoming and Idaho.  

Thanks to an anonymous donation, Cowgirl Pizza is offering free bags of fresh produce to anyone in the community regardless of financial or personal situation. 

EK Jewelers is auctioning jewelry and donating part of the proceeds to hard-hit local restaurants. 

Roadhouse Brewing has launched All Together IPA. More than 613 breweries from 41 states and 40 countries have joined forces to brew “All Together,” an IPA that uses an open-source recipe with a uniform goal: helping those in the hospitality industry.

Roadhouse and Fine Dining Restaurant Group have also partnered to source and donate medical-grade masks to local health workers. They've also launched Quarantine Cuisine to provide meals to residents -- particularly to new and expectant mothers.

Small Businesses the Heart of Cheyenne is highlighting several small businesses each day on social media and offering raffles and other incentives to shoppers or visitors.