WECU Comes to the Rescue for Bellingham Businesses with Paycheck Protection Program Loans

Paramedics are trained to save lives, but why not save jobs, too? Thanks to a Paycheck Protection Program loan from their credit union, WECU, the Bellingham Cider Company has breathed new life into its carryout menu and is saving jobs.

4/28/2020

Washington’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” executive order, issued in response to COVID-19, forced businesses statewide to closeTo offset the financial impacts, many business owners have turned to their credit unions for solutions, including the Bellingham Cider Companya smallbatch cider producer and restaurant. 

The owners, Bryce Hamilton and Josh Serface, are paramedics, trained to save lives. During the pandemic, they made it a priority to also save their employees’ jobs as well as their customers’ food cravings. 

Hamilton and Serface called their credit union, WECU, and began the process of obtaining a Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program loan so they’d be able to pay staff. They worked with the SBA to get six-month forbearance on the business loan that had helped them start their business, and their landlord offered them substantial temporary rent reduction. 

“We did not have the ability to shut down and float,” said Hamilton. “We would have had to shut down forever if not for the assistance.” 

WECU worked diligently to get the PPP loan approved, and it was funded April 17.  

Bellingham Cider Company is back in business, and most of the full-time employees are on the payroll. The takeout menu includes local favorites such as chicken and waffles, cider-brined familystyle chicken dinners, kale Caesar salads, and more. Hamilton and Serface put a great deal of thought into a safe takeout option and determined that curbside pickup was the best option. Watch this video to see all of the steps they are taking to protect their employees, suppliers, and customers.  

“WECU has been there for us every step of the way, from our opening to this crisis,” said Hamilton. 

WECU’s team helped 168 small business to obtain PPP loans before the first round of funding ran out in mid-April. The second round of PPP funding opened on Monday, and the credit union had already obtained more than 350 loan approvals by midday Tuesday. 

“Doing whatever we can to help small businesses survive this crisis is in alignment with the credit union philosophy of ‘People Helping People,” said Jennifer Kutcher, President and CEO of WECU. “We hope that this program, along with our other COVID-19 relief efforts, will help our local small businesses get through this very stressful time.” 

Editor’s Note: As the second round of SBA Paycheck Protection Program funding rolls out, the Northwest Credit Union Association will monitor the program’s progress closely and provide regular updates. If your credit union has an SBA success story, please share it with us by submitting it to our Member News page! 

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