MILWAUKEE- With an NHL great’s words echoing in his ears, Black Husky Brewing co-owner Tim Eichinger fired off his question to President Joe Biden during a CNN town hall Tuesday night.
“My partner and I own a small brewery in the Riverwest neighborhood of Milwaukee, and we have nine amazing employees. We rely primarily on selling our beer out of our tap room. And with the pandemic, our business has gone down about 50 percent. Now, we’ve relied primarily on loans, grants, as well as our own reserves to survive. However, the new assistance has been too slow, and recently it’s gotten more restrictive on how we can apply it. What will you do so that small mom-and-pop businesses like ours will survive over large corporate entities?”
The President didn’t directly address his concerns, but did draw applause by saying, “Change it drastically, first of all.” Never-the-less Eichinger tells WTMJ he was satisfied with the answer and was thankful for being given the opportunity to ask it in the first place.”
Eichinger says he was persuaded to submit a question to CNN prior to Tuesday night when he got the form forwarded to him by a colleague, “I subscribe to the Wayne Gretzky rule that you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take so I thought to myself, ‘why the hell not.'”
In addition to asking the federal government to reassess what they consider a ‘small business’, Eichinger says he’d also like to see changes to the rules and restrictions put in place for a business like his to access federally funded loans.
“We’re at a different place now in the pandemic than we were eleven months ago,” he says. “A lot of the funding was centered around PPE, but the amount of PPE we need now that we thought we needed a year ago is not the same yet the funding requirements have not changed.”
Eichinger says the brewery has been able to survive the pandemic because of their size, just nine full time employees, but it’s been far from an easy road.
“We haven’t made money since last February,” Eichinger says, “we’ve lost money every single month.
It’s not just small business owners who had an opportunity to ask a question of the President.
Kerri Engebrecht, of Oak Creek, asked Pres. Biden about her 19-year-old son, a UW-Madison student who suffers from pediatric Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Engebrecht’s son is considered vulnerable to COVID-19 but is not yet eligible for a vaccine.
“The more I would hear about people getting the extra vaccines at the end of the day, the more frustrated I was getting,” she explained to WTMJ’s Steve Scaffidi. “There should be a wait list for those who are most vulnerable.”
CNN reached out to Engebrecht after seeing a story about her vaccine frustration on TMJ4 News.
“I was notified at noon on Monday that I had been selected.”
The president told Engebrecht he had no control over how the states distributed vaccines, but he did tell her he would connect with her after the townhall.
“That didn’t happen,” Engebrecht laughed. But she told WTMJ the White House took her contact information.
Click to hear Engebrecht’s story: