Seeing small businesses in the area suffering from closures related to COVID-19, Drastic Measures Brewing owner/operator Brett Doebbeling saw a need to raise funds to give back to Wadena business people that have helped his business flourish.

He and his staff brewed up a 10 barrel batch of 5% blonde ale known as #WadenaStrong. The new brew was to be released Tuesday, May 19, and is available for off-sale at Drastic Measures Brewing and the Wadena Municipal Liquor Store. It's available in crowlers and growlers, which you can buy as off-sale and if the business could reopen, Doebbeling said they'd sell it by the pint.

Half of sales that come in from the beer ( $1,500 - $2,500) will go into an emergency loan fund. This COVID-19 Emergency Minnesota Investment Fund Loan program can support up to 24 local businesses with a maximum of $5,000 each. The loans are at 0% interest, amortized at 80% over a two-year period, with payments deferred for six months after the execution of the loan. The 20% can be forgiven because it is coming from the brewery and Wadena Development Authority rental proceeds.

Wadena City Administrator Janette Bower said this loan is much more straightforward then the United States Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program loans.

"It could be a quick turn around," Bower said.

The source of the funding is broken down like this:

  • $25,000 from each of the four state funded MIF loan funds,

  • $10,000 from the MIF exception fund,

  • $7,000 from the Wadena Development Authority building rental income,

  • $3,000 approximately raised by Drastic Measures’ #WadenaStrong promotion.

Applications are accepted now through June 5. Contact Wadena Economic Development Director Dean Uselman at 218-632-2757 to apply.

Examples of businesses that are eligible for funding are massage therapy, hair salons and certain retail establishments, including those ordered to close and cease operations because of the Governor’s Emergency Executive Orders: 20-04 issued on March 16, 2020; 20-08 issued on March 18, 2020; 20-18 issued on March 25, 2020; 20-20 issued on March 25, 2020 and 20-33 issued on April 8, 2020.

The qualifying business must be able to demonstrate a financial hardship due to the Emergency Executive Orders. Priority will be given to a business that has been denied Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), or other State or Federal assistance funding.

Loans are to be used to offset losses for up to a six-month period. Expenses can include utility bills, rent, vendor invoices, employee wages, associated taxes and benefits, property tax payments, and property and liability insurance.

The Wadena Development Authority Finance Committee will serve as the loan committee and will review and approve loan applications based on the program criteria. The Wadena Mayor and City Administrator will sign the final loan documents. The WDA Director Dean Uselman will contact each applicant with the outcome of his or her application.

Doebbeling expressed gratitude to community members that helped him with loans including the Paycheck Protection Program and EIDL funds.

"Without those we’d be up a creek without a paddle," Doebbeling said. He mentioned the brewery is down about 40% revenue since the COVID-19 closures. Despite their losses, when Doebbeling heard that donations could help provide more funds to those that did not qualify for other loans he knew this was one way they could still help out.

"I've seen some of these others -- some in tears," Doebbeling said of closed businesses. "We're fortunate enough to be partially open and they are keeping us going."

The brewery is anxiously anticipating a full reopening. Doebbeling believes they may be able to open to 50% capacity come June 1. He said he plans to work with Tri-County Health Care to develop steps to safely reopen.