Bennet Joined By Hardest-Hit Colorado Business Owners to Discuss RESTART Act

Senator’s Bipartisan Legislation Will Help Businesses Stay Afloat Through End of Year

Listen to Bennet’s Panel Discussion HERE

Denver – Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet and several business owners from across Colorado who have been hit the hardest by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) public health and economic crisis discussed their needs as the economy begins to reopen, and how Bennet’s legislation with U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.), the Reviving the Economy Sustainably Towards a Recovery in Twenty-twenty (RESTART) Act, can help. The bill, which is the first and only bipartisan proposal of its kind, makes necessary fixes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and creates the RESTART loan program to help businesses cover their fixed costs through the end of the year.  

Business owners who joined Bennet on the call include: Rich and Jessica Fierro, Owners of Atrevida Beer Company in Colorado Springs; Janine Williams, Owner of Impulsify in Denver; Jody Corey, Owner of Spoke and Vine Motel in Palisade; and Bill Carver, Owner of Carver Brewing Company in Durango.  

“If we’re going to get this economy back on its feet – which I’m confident that we will – we have to make sure those 40 million Americans who are now unemployed have jobs to return to. For that to happen, we need to make sure small businesses across Colorado and the country stay in business – and survive – until things are closer to normal, however long that takes,” said Bennet in the discussion with Colorado business owners. “They are running out of cash and running out of time – and unless we do something, we’re going to see a lot of them close their doors forever and never reopen – turning temporary job losses into permanent ones. I don’t believe we can let that happen, and it’s why we put together the RESTART Act.” 

“We had to lay off a large portion of our staff, and with as many shortcomings as the PPP did have — I can tell you as someone who received it — it was, at minimum, some optimism and the ability to take care of the families that are so loyal to us. So I am just beyond excited and optimistic about this bill and what it does to put the decision making back in the hands of the employers…” said Janine Williams, Owner of Impulsify in Denver. “The flexibility of this plan, it's just a lot more forgiveness, mainly on how we spend and how we prioritize our spending as we begin to restart. It’s what's so needed now that we all realize this is not, you know, a two week shut down, a four week shut down, an eight week shut down, this is a massive impact for months, if not — for the hospitality industry — likely well into 2022.”

“We are wholly affected by this pandemic. We were initially shut down, and then we began to-go sales, and we had to transition to canning which we had never done, so we borrowed equipment to do that and train our employees,” said Rich Fierro, owner of Atrevida Beer Company in Colorado Springs. “We've got four employees we started this pandemic with as we still have. We have yet to receive a PPP...We applied at the beginning when we were all let loose to do so. It is very tough. I still work full time, so that's where I am able to provide to make ends meet for my family. As an army veteran, I'm still working as a defense contractor — which has also been hit, I've been working from home. So we are hit all across the board here in the Springs, and that is something that is important to us.” 

“We were allowed to be open because we were deemed essential... But we had no business. We had about six reservations over the course of two months…” said Jody Corey, Owner of Spoke and Vine Motel in Palisade. “We are living — literally — day to day with our fingers and toes crossed that we ramp up to some level of occupancy because at this point, it's very difficult for us and obviously as a new business owner, small business planning is essential for us, and at this point, we don't even really know how to plan our budgets that we set out this year. We basically tore them up and we're going week by week at this point, writing in pencil.” 

“We’ve been in the business a long time, and this is definitely the most challenging time in my career spanning close to forty years in Colorado’s restaurant industry. I talked with Michael and his office about some of the aspects of the RESTART program, which I see as very valuable,” said Bill Carver, Owner of Carver Brewing Company in Durango. “I think without a program like that, we’ll see a lot of small businesses simply not be able to reopen because of a temporary cash flow problem.”  

A recording of the panel discussion is available HERE. More information on the RESTART Act is available HERE. The bill text is available HERE.