The Wyoming Business Council Board of Directors on Tuesday approved a federal grant request for $48,000 to purchase materials for the Wyoming Technology Coronavirus Coalition (WTCC) and WyoMakers to manufacture and distribute personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face shields, hard and soft face masks, ear savers and gowns for first responders and health providers statewide.
The board approved a Community Development Block Grant Imminent Threat Funds request by the City of Sheridan. This grant will pay for the raw materials used to manufacture the equipment. In coordination with Manufacturing-Works, all PPE made with this money will be distributed to county emergency management teams free of charge. From there, the equipment will be provided to EMS, fire, police, hospitals and clinics.
Spencer Kuzara with Phorge Makerspace in Sheridan and WyoMakers -- which is comprised of makerspaces across the state -- said his group has manufactured and delivered more than 1,000 pieces of PPE so far. The group's goal is to sew 1,000 masks per week and 30,000 gowns over the next three months while maintaining appropriate social distancing in their space, he added.
"At the end of the day, our goal is to make sure that hospitals and medical workers can get the PPE that they need," he said. "It is inspring to see Wyoming people come together and use their skills to make this happen."
In addition, the WTCC has manufactured another 3,200+ pieces of PPE through its vast volunteer network.
Many private companies, nonprofits and schools across the state have contributed to both groups' efforts.
This grant is the second CDBG awarded by the Business Council this month to create public-private partnerships that aid Wyoming businesses and organizations who are pivoting to meet the needs of those on the front lines in the battle against the covid-19 pandemic. The first was $250,000 awarded to the Town of Mills on April 7 for the manufacture of hand sanitizer.
“The Business Council is pleased to partner with Wyomingites who are rising to this challenge in creative and innovative ways,” said Josh Dorrell, Business Council CEO. "When it comes down to it, Wyoming steps up for those in need, and these creative solutions highlight that spirit of collaboration and community."