Red Leg brewery had just enough money to make the payroll for four months when state restrictions to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic forced the brewery to close in late March.
Todd Baldwin, the founder and president of Red Leg, told his 16 employees that he planned to keep them all on the payroll until the money ran out and forced the brewery to file for bankruptcy. But that day never came. The northern brewery received $ 87,000 from the United States Small Business Administration’s Payment Check Protection Program, created by legislation in March to help small businesses retain employees.
“The Salary Protection Program helped us to survive as a company. We were one of many companies that heard that we couldn’t do business (during the pandemic), ”said Baldwin. “We kept everyone on our payroll (16 people) and gave them an increase of $ 15 an hour until August, as we had reduced their hours. I told our employees that we still had eight payrolls that we could make and then we would go bankrupt, but the PPP loan came a few days later. “
Red Leg was one of Colorado’s five companies and non-profit organizations, SBA administrator Jovita Carranza, who visited Friday to learn more about how companies used PPP loans, which can be forgiven if 60% of money is used for payroll. She was also “assessing the business climate” and looking for ideas on where to focus a possible additional round of PPP financing that could be included in pandemic relief legislation under negotiation between the Trump administration and Democratic leaders in Congress.
Red Leg not only survived, but will move later this year to a $ 8.5 million beer, restaurant and entertainment complex under construction on 2323 Garden of the Gods Road. The 2.5-acre complex, financed with a loan guaranteed by the SBA, could accommodate up to 2,500 customers, although Baldwin remains concerned that Red Leg will be able to use only a fraction of the COVID-19 restrictions.
The new complex is a major expansion of the brewery’s location in a warehouse district at 4630 Forge Road, which Baldwin financed with a loan of up to $ 300,000 on 18 credit cards to start the business. A 28-year-old businessman with no experience in the beer industry, Baldwin said he was turned down by 30 local banks for loans, so he and his wife used several cards in 2012 to finance the business and paid off the balance in two years.
“Many companies are saying that if there was another round of PPP, they could continue to expand their business. Some businesses, like restaurants and entertainment companies, are still suffering and would need more help, ”said Carranza.
“We focus on the underserved market and the smallest of small businesses, and I’m here to learn and apply what I’ve learned” to shape future rounds of PPP loans.
Stephanie Richard received three types of help from the SBA to help Sparkles and Lace Boutique, a company she owns with Lisa Raulie, to rehire her seven employees and survive the closure in the first months of the pandemic. The women’s clothing store, which is expanding into men’s clothing, received $ 19,000 in a PPP loan, a $ 7,000 grant and $ 6,600 in deferred payments on its SBA loan to bring employees back and pay rent. his building at 2140 Garden of the Gods Road.
“We couldn’t have done it with this help. We got more online while we were closed during the stay at home request and were very busy after we reopened, but it declined afterwards, ”said Richard. The company had received the SBA loan a year ago to finance an expansion and would have difficulty making loan payments while it was closed, so deferred payments helped Sparkles and Lace survive, she said.
The United States Olympic and Paralympic Museum in central Colorado Springs also received a $ 100,000 PPP loan to continue paying its staff and prepare for its opening in July, said Christopher Liedel, the museum’s CEO. The loan financed the payroll of about 10 employees, who he said were “huge” to complete construction and keep opening plans going, like making adjustments to meet pandemic-related requirements, he said.