Insights into the world of small business lending and development

A #CDFIstory of an Untapped Opportunity

Newaygo Brewing Company is a 100 seat full service restaurant and brewery opened by Eric, Nick, and Krista Looman in May 2015. When they initially found their location they self-financed the building and reached out to their local banker for building improvements, equipment, and working capital. Nick had spent many hours as front of the house staff in restaurants. Krista had been on the team of the 2nd largest caterer in Sacramento. After several years of home-based brewing, they decided to join forces with Nick’s brother and accountant, Eric, and open a brewery in Newaygo, an untapped market 30 minutes from Grand Rapids.

They quickly found their location – a vacant, historic building near the Muskegon River – that capitalized on a bustling downtown and offered ready access to the 1000+ people running the river each summer. The founders self-financed the building and reached out to their local banker for building improvements, equipment, and working capital. When their financing needs didn’t meet traditional lending requirements, the banker suggested Northern Initiatives.

Serendipitously, Northern Initiatives had previously worked with two craft breweries and could offer industry benchmarks that helped the team craft a solid business strategy. A loan from Northern Initiatives followed. This loan provided working capital primarily for marketing and promotion which contributed to their success and eventually allowed the team to attract significant additional financing from a lending partner and a personal investor.

With financing in place, they opened for a soft launch within nine months, and were greeted with a line out the door. “Due in large measure to Northern Initiatives’ business services and early financial support, we experienced almost spontaneous success. From the moment of our soft launch, we didn’t catch our collective breaths until after Labor Day, four months later.”

More about Northern Initiatives here and here.