Mac McClung was working Tuesday in his Woodland Park shop, Bad Rock Automotive, when a mini flash mob surrounded him and began taking pictures.
The group, from Pikes Peak Area Rotary Clubs, surprised him with a check for $2,000. It was a collective business hug and the group gave out two that day and has plans to surprise at least eight other small businesses in the El Paso and Teller County area in the next few weeks.
It’s not Publisher’s Clearinghouse money, but it will help pay the bills and keep the lights on in small businesses in the Pikes Peak region that took a financial hit after the Waldo Canyon fire. Some businesses were evacuated, some were affected by road closures and some, those that rely on the tourist season to carry the year, were devastated.
After the Waldo Canyon fire, which started in late June, the eight Colorado Springs area Rotary clubs banded together to collect donations through the Pikes Peak Area Rotary Endowment fund. They wanted the money specifically to help small businesses, said Bill Savage, member of the North Colorado Springs Rotary Club. Donations came in from across the country.
Savage handed McClung the check with only one string attached: “The only thing we ask is that you be successful,” he said. The small group of Rotarians clapped and cheered.
McClung was surprised by the check and by the overwhelming feeling that people care whether his nine-year-old business survives, he said. He has five employees, down two because of the hurting economy. Then, the fire happened and he had to lock up for a week. When he reopened his shop it was the July 4th holiday and it seemed no one came in for two weeks following the fire. He lost about $40,000 in sales, he said.
Insurance helped. He looked into the low-interest rate loans the U.S. Small Business Administration was offering, but that wasn’t a fit for him.
“As usual, the Rotary clubs put their money where their mouth is,” he said. “This will relieve some of the financial stress.”
Members of the Pikes Peak Area Rotary Clubs also made their way over to The Pantry in Green Mountain Falls, where owner Ben Stephens was overwhelmed with his $2,000 check and promised to share the money with all seven employees.
Savage, who volunteers with the U.S. Small Business Administration’s small business mentor group SCORE, is vetting the small businesses to ensure the donated funds are going to viable businesses, he said. Savage examined Bad Rock Automotive’s books and saw the impact the fire had on the bottom line.
“This money I know will assist a business to stay in the area,” he said. “Rotary can alleviate a little of that strain.”