LUDLOW — Federal officials (figuratively speaking) raised their glasses and toasted the Vanished Valley Brewing Co., being recognized Monday morning as a small-business success story.
The Ludlow Brewery hosted US Small Business Administration officials, US Representative Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield and local dignitaries as the SBA celebrates its 69th anniversary this month.
After first brewing its beers in a building the size of a two-car garage in 2016, Vanished Valley co-owners Joshua Britton, Manny Vital and Sarah and Michael Rodrigues built a 4,000-square-foot brewery three years later next to the restaurant that once housed Europa Black Rock Bar and Grille. The brewery financed its expansion with 504 SBA-backed loans from the Freedom Credit Union and the Bay Colony Certified Development Corp.
He increased their limited annual production from 22,000 gallons to 119,000.
A month after the brewery/faucet room/kitchen officially opened at 782 Center St. in February 2020, the pandemic has hit and permanently closed many businesses.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, which Neal co-authored, provided $2.2 trillion in economic relief to companies like Vanished Valley with its protection program paychecks (PPP) and its economic disaster loans.
“The PPP loans we got helped us tremendously,” Britton said. “We had a very interesting journey and it wasn’t easy at all. We left the track in the early 20s, then March came around and we had to pivot really quickly.
He added, “The state allowed us to deliver beer door-to-door and our distribution model really took off. Our phone kept ringing.
Vanished Valley has successfully shifted its operations from planned draft beers and table service to delivering beer and canned food. Its beers, including its flagship New England-style IPAs Pomona and Watershed, are now available not only statewide, but in parts of Rhode Island and New Hampshire.
“The SBA and Freedom Credit Union deferred (loan) payments for us and were critical to our survival,” Britton said.
Mike Vlacich, SBA New England Regional Administrator, credited Neal, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and SBA District Director Bob Nelson for meeting the needs of small businesses when the pandemic hit. struck.
“(They) made sure the jobs stayed whole and the businesses could stay put,” Vlacich said. “We couldn’t do this without the skills, insight and know-how of (Neal). He was the architect of so many key elements of this unprecedented economic recovery. »
Neal noted how the Democratic-led Congress responded quickly to pandemic warnings issued on March 11, 2020 by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the president’s chief medical adviser.
“In three months, America has lost 22 million jobs. President (Nancy) Pelosi and myself and Secretary (Treasury Steven) Mnuchin at the time drafted the CARES Act in eight days – introduced to the floor, passed by the House, passed by the Senate and signed by the former president,” Neal recalled. “Two years later, all the jobs are back and there are 11.2 million vacancies…that’s an incredible statistic.”
He added: “The HEROES Act, we wrote, and President Joe Biden’s bailout package…(has) put money into the hands of people who needed it.”