Local businesses, unemployed adapt to changing circumstances

Silver lining of community support

SHERIDAN — As the state and nation balk at last week’s record-breaking number of unemployment claims, local business owners are finding ways to adapt with the community’s support.

From Wyoming’s first reported case of COVID-19 on March 11 through rounds of ordered closures, many have had to make difficult decisions for their teams.

“The best interest for my employees was to lay them off — and that was before the stimulus package,” said Verdello owner Kathy Bede. “Business has declined, and there wasn’t enough to keep them busy. Instead of cutting their hours back, they were better off filing for unemployment at that point.”

The Pony Grill and Bar owner Tye Bach also had to lay off a substantial portion of his employees.

“I will say, first and foremost, that my staff have been really supportive and understood the changes we had to go through,” Bach said. “It was an easier discussion to have knowing it has nothing to do with our business and that, once this passes, they will have their job back immediately.”

Similarly, Smith Alley Brew Co. is “pretty much down to a skeleton crew, unfortunately, and even that is very wearing on our business,” said owner Tiffany McCormick. “If it continues much longer, I don’t know how we’ll even keep our doors open for delivery and takeout. It’s very scary and very sad. I know we’re not alone, we’re all in this together, but it just sucks.”

Many local business owners have stayed in touch with their laid-off employees, some of whom experienced hiccups due to the unprecedented number of people trying to access the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services system — a nationwide dilemma.

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