BLACK HUSKY OWNER SPEAKS WITH PRESIDENT BIDEN ABOUT SMALL BUSINESS
Tim Eichinger co-owner of Black Husky Brewing in Riverwest had a chance to speak with President Joe Biden this past month. He submitted a question at a Milwaukee town hall meeting asking, “What will you do so that small mom-and-pop businesses like ours will survive over large corporate entities?” Much to his surprise he received a follow-up zoom call from President Biden.
Over the course of a 25-minute call Biden listened to Eichinger for a total of 18 minutes. Eichinger shared his thoughts about the current struggles present for small business owners.
“He understands, I think, the struggles of daily life,” Eichinger said. “I told him; I said the forgiveness is treating everybody as if they are trying to defraud. Instead of treating most people who, are, by and large honest and trying to do the right thing.”
He also explained the process of applying for the Paycheck Protection Program, which has been simple. Although, loan forgiveness, he said, has been a “nightmare.”
One response from Biden that struck Eichinger was his definition of small business.
Biden shared that the original definition of small business meant 500 or less employees but what he is talking about are “mom-and-pop businesses” such as Black Husky Brewery.
“They hold communities together and keep people together,” Biden said.
It’s been a tough time for Eichinger and his wife co-founder Toni Eichinger. They originally had to lay off all of their employees and drastically reduce hours. Business is still down about 60 percent but since recently they have been able to rehire all 9 of their employees.
“It’s been a struggle for everybody” says Eichinger. “But nobody does it like Riverwest.”
Regulars come in and spend twenty dollars here or five dollars there and it has made a huge difference.
Even in the face of Black Husky Brewery’s struggles Eichenger talks about building community infrastructure. He is forward thinking and has a lot of great ideas.
“We’ve been here almost five years now. You become part of a community not just by moving into it but by being active in it. We’ve tried to do that, and I think we’ve done well.”
He talks about bringing more structure to Garden Park which is across the street from Black Husky.
“It would help if we had electricity out there,” he explains.
He also suggests bringing in a shipping container for music and events and doing a little landscaping.
“That would be perfect for Riverwest,” he said.
He wants to follow up with other community stakeholders for their input and opinions.
“Great things are going to happen, but we’ve got to keep the momentum going,” he explains and “we now have a president who is taking leadership.”
Eichinger feels hopeful after talking to President Biden.
He says the president is in touch with regular people. His staff even have to tell him he can’t share his number with people or go give them a hug because that’s just the kind of guy he is.
According to Eichinger, “Biden is just a dude.”
The outcome for small business owners moving forward looks promising. What we can do now is keep pulling the community together and supporting one another even in the face of adversity; because that is what Riverwest does.