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Federal stimulus package to pay major dividends for local businesses

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DULUTH, MN -- There's relief on the horizon for local businesses that have had to drastically reduce their operations due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

With the stimulus bill set to be passed soon, there are billions of dollars earmarked for bars, restaurants, and others who have had to close their doors, reduce hours, and lay off staff.

For small businesses, like Canal Park Brewing, the last two weeks have been full of uncertainty.

"We operate day by day, and do everything we can, just to stay afloat," said General Manager Tom Wroblewski.

After Minnesota Governor Tim Walz ordered restaurants to go to curbside pickup only, Wrowblewksi says they've been focusing on take-out orders, growlers, and crowlers to make ends meet.

"We did end up laying off our entire front of house staff to be able to survive," said Wroblewski.

Wroblewski said business is way down since the Governor's order.

"It's at least an 80-percent drop compared to where we were in sales," said Wroblewski, "We started prior to the layoff with about 80 employees, we're down to probably about 10 hourly employees that are still actively working."

But help is on the way. Lawmakers have struck a deal to put cash in citizen's pockets and create a roughly $400-billion package to help small businesses stay afloat. Those are parts of what is expected to be a $2-trillion plan.

"It shows us that we have a chance at getting this economy back on track and getting people back to work again," said Wroblewski, "It will allow us to add more staff back on, potentially add more back onto our menu. Hopefully [we'll] be able to partner with some of our local businesses to help them recover as well."

Where a barren dining room, and dry taps have become the norm, Wroblewski says long-term, a bailout not only helps bring customers back but sets businesses up for the future.

"It helps to do some more research and development, create some new beers, purchase new equipment, things that will help us in our operations."

Creating a bright outlook for the coming days.

"We'll be here now, and we'll be here when this all ends, better and stronger than ever," he said.

To help the community, Canal Park Brewing is adding free meals for kids, starting Thursday from 4 p.m until 6 p.m. You get one free meal per kid in the car.

They will also be changing their hours to 4 p.m to 8 p.m, Monday through Saturday.

They will be closed on Sundays.

As of publishing time, a vote had not taken place on the bill. However, all signs point to the bill passing.

Reporter Anthony Matt

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