Lehigh Valley small businesses specializing in food, beverage and hospitality will be eligible for micro-loans targeted for expansion, equipment purchases and marketing under a new program announced Monday by The Boston Beer Company of Upper Macungie and The Rising Tide Community Loan Fund of Bethlehem.
The program, dubbed "Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream," is targeting credit-challenged businesses by providing loans, coaching, mentoring and educational resources.
The Rising Tide, a separately incorporated subsidiary of the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley Inc. (CACLV), along with micro-lender Accion will make loans of between $500 and $25,000 that can be earmarked for equipment purchase, marketing or expansion.
Chris Hudock, director of the Rising Tide, said he expects high demand for the loan and mentoring program, although he added no Lehigh Valley businesses have applied at this time.
"This is being rolled out nationwide and the program has just rolled out in the Lehigh Valley," Hudock said. "This will allow businesses to work with someone who is already established."
Hudock noted that the micro-loans are ones that traditional banks likely would not write.
"Maybe the business doesn't have a great credit score. We will sit down with them and get the loan done," he said.
Hudock added that the part of the program's value is the mentoring and other perks provided by Boston Beer.
"They'll get some training from Boston Beer and resources they don't have right now," he said. "When you get Boston Beer talking about your business, it's not a bad thing."
In a release, Boston Beer said the program provides loans, coaching, mentoring and educational resources to business owners who find it difficult to access the funds and guidance needed to start, sustain or grow their businesses.
“A large part of what differentiates our program is our focus on offering in-depth expertise and advice in combination with small loans. We’ve found success by developing relationships with local partners like the Rising Tide Community Loan Fund to further strengthen our ability to offer expertise and provide loans to small business owners in the community,” said Jim Koch, brewer and founder of Samuel Adams in the release.
A separate program, launched in the Lehigh Valley in 2011, recently held its third Speed Coaching event, which was co-hosted by the Rising Tide Community Loan Fund.
During speed coaching events, small business owners sit down with Samuel Adams employee-coaches and partners who serve as experts for spirited, one-on-one, 20-minute sessions on a wide range of topics including marketing, branding, e-commerce, packaging, sales and distribution, accounting, legal, ingredient sourcing and more. The sessions are designed to address specific needs of the small business owners.
The speed coaching event was attended by approximately 40 small business owners and was held at the Samuel Adams Brewery in Breinigsville.