The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been felt by Laramie's restaurant community. To help the 36 restaurants, bakeries, coffee shops, bars, and breweries within the designated historic district, Laramie Main Street has partnered with United Way of Albany County, Blue Federal Credit Union, Toyota of Laramie, Premier Bone and Joint and UniWyo Federal Credit Union to create a Downtown Restaurant Payroll Grant.

Eating and drinking establishments in the Downtown Development Authority boundaries, as defined in Laramie Main Street’s by-laws as its service area, are encouraged to apply for grant funds before December 31. The goal is to quickly disperse funds by the end of 2020. The grant application can be found at http://www.laramiemainstreet.org/grants.

“We are thrilled to enter into this collaborative partnership with so many community-minded partners to amplify the missions of both Laramie Main Street Alliance and United Way,” Trey Sherwood, Director of LMSA, said. “These grants aren’t a silver bullet to keeping doors open, but it is a needed boost until a second round of federal relief funds are distributed”.

Any monies unapplied for and remaining in January of 2021 will be opened up to retail and service establishments located in the historic district.

“Healthy community non-profits and thriving local business go hand in hand. For years, our local restaurants and businesses have provided immeasurable support to our non-profits, from hosting events to donating fundraiser items," said Evelyn Edson, Executive Director of UWAC. "United Way’s hope is that we can repay this generosity, saving businesses and maintaining jobs while lessening the demand on social service non-profits, who also face financial challenges.”

Pete Gosar, Director of the Downtown Clinic, one of United Ways partner agencies said, "If United Way funding can be leveraged with other local organizations then what a wonderful community response to a difficult situation."

Laramie Main Street reached out to community partners to help contribute funds as well. Contributions came in from Blue Federal Credit Union, Toyota of Laramie, Premier Bone and Joint, and UniWyo Federal Credit Union. Sherwood shared, “We are moved by the generosity of our community and the commitment to invest in the small, locally-owned businesses that call downtown home”.

“Blue Federal Credit Union is honored to be a part of Laramie. Throughout all the unexpected challenges 2020 has brought, Blue has remained committed to helping in impactful ways”, says Michele Bolkovatz, VP of Public Relations and Business Development at Blue Federal Credit Union. “The Downtown Restaurant Payroll Grant does this in a very tangible way that aligns with Blue’s mission of Doing Good and being an integral part of our communities.”

Ian Roberts, General Manager of Toyota of Laramie shared, “As the crazy year that is 2020 comes to an end, we at Toyota of Laramie count our blessings. We celebrate what makes our community so great to live and work in and feel very fortunate to be able to give back to our community. We are proud and honored to call Laramie home and we will continue to work to make our home better and better. Trust Toyota of Laramie to be here for you today, tomorrow”.

Ryan Claxton, Marketing Director at Premier Bone and Joint Centers, shared, “We support this program because downtown is one of the reasons what makes our town great, and whenever there is a chance to help our locally owned entrepreneurs during these unprecedented times we jump right in to help!”

In addition to the funding from business partners, Laramie Main Street is accepting individual, tax-deductible, donations to the grant program at www.laramiemainstreet.org

Covid Relief Grants for businesses outside the historic district are available through the Laramie Chamber Business Alliance at https://laramie.org/covid-relief-grants-loans.

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LOOK: Just some of the photos that capture the historic year that was 2020