Last year, 13 companies received grants from a Wyoming initiative which they then used to apply for larger, federal grants. The Wyoming Small Business Innovation Research and Technology Transfer Program was established to help small businesses in the state get more federal grants that could be beneficial to their businesses. Each award is for up to $5,000 and can be used for any purpose that would improve a federal grant proposal.
Gene Watson is the director of the program. He says the federal grants receive applications from all over the nation and Wyoming’s applicants often need some help.
“The states that primarily are successful in this endeavor are like California, Massachusetts, states that have very sophisticated research organizations,” Watson says. “It’s very difficult to compete against from a rural state like Wyoming with 500,000 or so population and only one center of research activity in the state, which is University of Wyoming.”
Diane Wolverton, who started a company called The Local Crowd, was one of the people who received a $5,000 award in 2013. She says it helped her.
“These federal grants are very competitive and they’re difficult to write,” says Wolverton. “I’ve been a grant writer in the public sector for 20 years, and I’ll tell you, this was the most difficult grant I’ve ever written. And without the support of this program I’m sure it wouldn’t be successful.”
Watson says the program gives out 10 to 15 awards each year. The funding comes from the Wyoming Business Council. Watson says many companies his program supports have ended up with federal grants and successful businesses.