It can be hard for bankers to find the right funding for the small businesses they’re trying to help. Recently, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City – Denver Branch invited bankers to an informational webinar about programs that may offer a solution. Approximately 60 bankers from throughout Wyoming and adjoining states joined the Wyoming Interagency Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) Roundtable on May 25. Feedback since then suggests the event is having an impact.

Along with the Kansas City Fed, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) partnered to hold the roundtable, which included a robust discussion of available small business funding resources. The webinar can External Linkbe viewed online.

New program seeks to fill gap in equity funding

Funding resources to assist small businesses in Wyoming are available thanks to federal funds from the Treasury’s State Small Business Credit Initiative (External LinkSSBCI) program and other federal funding working in the state. The Wyoming Business Council hopes to fill an identified gap in equity funding by utilizing the up to $58.4 million in SSBCI funding approved for the state.

With those funds, Wyoming will operate two equity/venture capital External Linkprograms. The funds program, allocated $23.4 million, will provide limited partnership investments in Wyoming-focused seed/early-stage venture capital funds. The direct program, allocated $35 million, will provide External Linkequity co-investments in seed or Series A growth stage technology companies in the state. Both programs will provide access for venture capital investments for in-state entrepreneurs.

“Access to capital remains one of the biggest challenges for Wyoming entrepreneurs and start-ups,” Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon said. “The Wyoming Venture Capital program has the potential to transform the state’s venture capital and entrepreneurial ecosystem by filling a gap in equity funding for companies in the early stages of fundraising.”

Bankers learned about opportunities to work with Native business owners

A session on the CRA and leveraging Native Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) opportunities in Wyoming was led by Paul Huberty. The executive director of External Linkthe Wind River Development Fund, a Native CDFI, Huberty discussed opportunities available to financial institutions interested in working with Native business owners. The Wind River Development Fund is located on the Wind River Indian Reservation and is home to the Eastern Shoshone and North Arapaho Tribes.

Huberty also shared information on the Mountain Plains Regional Native CDFI Coalition, of which the Wind River Development Fund is a partner, tasked with expanding economic opportunity in Native American communities in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

Network offers updates on subordinated loan participation program

Christina Kappaz, managing director of Wyoming Smart Capital Network, provided updates on the subordinated loan participation program they have available. They work through lending institutions that in turn work directly with small business owners leveraging capital for small businesses with the result of new jobs created or retained. Learn more at External

The Wyoming Smart Capital Network presented its subordinated loan participation program during the roundtable and shared how banks can extend more loans to small businesses in their communities by partnering with them. Kappaz said the webinar may have generated additional business, as the network received many requests to partner on loans after the event.

Webinar renews contacts, spurs investments

Bert Adam, investments director for the Wyoming Business Council, said that because of the webinar “we have enjoyed reconnecting with existing bankers and contacts recently. We have seen increased interest in our loan options. With continued increases in interest rates those loan options are more compelling to businesses. Additionally, we have closed our first equity investment and it was just made public.” The External Linknew venture fund recently made its first direct equity investment in a Cheyenne-based technology firm.


Ariel Cisneros

Senior Advisor

Ariel Cisneros is a lead community development advisor for the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City at the Denver Branch. Cisneros focuses on the community and economic developmen…