Eighth District Congressman Pete Stauber, R-Duluth, toured Tri-County Health Care and Drastic Measures Brewing, Monday, July 13, on a gratitude tour recognizing community businesses for their service during the COVID-19 pandemic.

At his first stop of the day, Stauber noted the importance of rural hospitals, the built relationship with Tri-County that has informed his discussions in Washington, the digital desert seen in rural areas and the supply chain for personal protective equipment such as gloves that is impacted by products not being made in the United States. He praised Tri-County for “leading in such a big way,” with projects that president and CEO Joel Beiswenger mentioned as partnering with the schools for day care planning, donating purchased and locally-made masks and providing guidance for businesses to reopen. The hospital also suspended their new building project for at least one construction season.

Beiswenger said the Paycheck Protection Program with the Small Business Administration primarily helped maintain staff members rather than having to furlough workers who would potentially then have to look for other jobs. Tri-County received $5.7 million in PPP loans and several million in coronavirus relief bill funds, according to Beiswenger. The hospital was 50% below their projected revenue in April, according to Beiswenger.

During Stauber’s second stop, Drastic Measures Brewing owner/operator Brett Doebbeling explained the process of brewing beer and the idea behind the #WadenaStrong beer. The beer was released on May 19 with half of the proceeds going to a COVID-19 Emergency Minnesota Investment Fund Loan program for area businesses who were impacted by the pandemic. The proceeds totaled $2,700.

Doebbeling wanted to thank local people after a local investment group with the Wadena Development Authority helped his business previously. The investment loans were for some of the brewery tanks and the exterior of the building, according to Doebbeling and WDA director Dean Uselman.

Stauber applauded Drastic Measures and the city of Wadena for working as a community with Wadena County Commissioner Bill Stearns and City Administrator Janette Bower noting the importance of creative ideas and working to fulfill them.