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Rep. Ron Kind discusses American Rescue Plan and the benefits for small businesses in the La Crosse area

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - Rep. Ron Kind, joined Opportunity Wisconsin and the Main Street Alliance at Pearl Street Brewery to talk with the owners of the brewery and BP Smokehouse about relief for Wisconsin small businesses.

After a difficult year, many small businesses are just beginning to look towards recovering. Last week, Gov. Tony Evers announced a plan to utilize $3.2 billion in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan to help businesses and families affected by the pandemic.

Rep. Ron Kind joined Tami Plourde, co-owner of the Pearl Street Brewery, and Darren Price, owner of BP Smokehouse in Tomah and Opportunity Wisconsin Steering Committee Member, Wednesday afternoon to discuss how the pandemic has affected them and their small business.

Kind said he supported the American Rescue Plan because it was direct feedback from small businesses that they listened to and are trying to help to buy some time while vaccinations are ramping up and people are getting back out.

He explained that part of the American Rescue Plan is the Paycheck Protection Program which is money given to small businesses that they can use for wages, salaries, utilities, rent payments, and other things they needed to cover but couldn't because of the virus.

Pearl Street Brewery just celebrated their 22nd anniversary. Co-owner Tami Plourde said they have dealt with staffing issues and they have had to downsize. Fortunately, she said they have been able to receive funding from the Paycheck Protection Program twice.

"The bottom line is our business has been greatly impacted," said Plourde. "We self distribute within this community so the majority of bars and restaurants either being closed or restricted in capacity or limited hours, a lot of those things really impacted the brewery."

Which is why this funding is so important for them.

"Any sort of funding that was available as far as grants, loans, and anything that supported us, we looked into and we continue to look into," said Plourde. "It's taking a massive step towards funneling funds into the hospitality industry which I cannot say enough has been so heavily impacted that it will take many, many years to recover."

Plourde said she believes this funding will impact a lot of businesses in the area and she knows many that will benefit from this.

Darren Price, owner of BP Smokehouse in Tomah, said this funding has been crucial for so many small businesses.

"What really drives the economy is small business and this American Rescue Act basically is more than a game changer," said Price. "We're not out of the woods yet, but I can tell you that it looks much brighter now than it did a year ago and even six months ago."

Price said they are experiencing an uptick in business and they are excited for what's to come. Both Price and Plourde are very grateful for the funding and they showed their thanks to Rep. Kind.

The Rescue Plan is not just for small businesses but also provides resources for increased production with vaccinations and vaccines.

"That's the name of the game right now is to encourage people that when it's your time, please get vaccinated, get those shots in the arms because we know it's safe, it's effective and it works," said Kind. "The more people we get vaccinated, the more kids we can get back in the classroom, the more businesses like Pearl Street will be able to fully open again."

There are other aspects included in the American Rescue Plan as well including an expansion of the child tax credit which will help lift at least half of the children living in poverty, out of poverty.

Kind explained that all of these programs were implemented to buy time until we can get more people vaccinated and back to a fully functioning economy.

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Rylie Kyhn

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