The U.S. Treasury Department is making nearly $4.4 million available to Wyoming small business lenders in 17 municipalities, including Casper, Cheyenne and Laramie.

Wyoming Smart Capital Network executive director Diane Wolverton says the program was put in place to help small businesses expand.

“If a company has a project that looks good in all respects, however they’re short on collateral, then the program can put up to 50 percent of the loan amount in to serve as collateral,” Wolverton said.

Wolverton called small business "the engine of Wyoming's economy," and said Wyoming's continued growth hinges upon expanding the state's existing small businesses.

“In Wyoming, it’s a very high percentage of businesses that are small businesses – it’s over 95 percent,” Wolverton said. “Really, when you’re talking about creating jobs and stimulating the economy, you’re really talking about small business.”

The program is part of the State Small Business Credit Initiative, which was created when President Obama signed the Small Business Jobs Act in 2010. According to a press release, Wyoming has received roughly $8.6 million from the federal government to support small businesses.