Veterans face challenges when starting a small business
A southern Colorado veteran opened a local brewery after several years of hurdles, and now he hopes to help fellow veterans become entrepreneurs.
Red Leg Brewing Company, located on Forge Road off Garden of the Gods Road opened on the Fourth of July. It was a way for owner Todd Baldwin to honor his country.
"Our mission is just serving those who served," he said. "And I think that's important to us as an organization and as a brewery."
Baldwin served in the military for more than three years, completing his service in 2009. He said the experience taught him things that prepared him to run a business, like following plans, building relationships and managing people.
"As an officer with 130 people you're responsible for, you feel like you have a pretty good idea of what it's like to manage people, to drive business and things like that," he said.
But the experience wasn't enough for banks to back his brewery. He said he tried applying for a Patriot Express Loan but was unsuccessful.
"All in all, it was just disappointing that there are these basically funds set aside, that was already backed 85 percent by the Small Business Administration, and no bank was even interested to hearing about it or talking about it," Baldwin said.
Baldwin turned to people to be able to open Red Leg Brewing Company, but his mission isn't over. He plans on starting a non-profit organization to mentor veterans and guide them through the process of opening a business. He also hopes to educate banks on how military skills translate into business skills.
And Red Leg Brewing Company has a beer-naming competition. Military units can submit creative videos or letters saying why a seasonal beer should be named after them. Part of the proceeds of the beer will go to the winning unit's family readiness group.
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