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Tired of Striking Out with Banks, Small Businesses Find Alternative Lenders’ Pitch More to Their Liking

Small Business Alternative Lenders

In baseball, a player who bats below .200 is said to be hitting below the Mendoza Line, so named for a light-hitting shortstop for the 1970s Pittsburgh Pirates. That means the batter makes an out more than eight out of every 10 at bats. Sounds pretty futile, doesn’t it?

Small businesses often face a Mendoza Line of their own each time they apply for a loan. Nationally, banks reject small business loan applications 80 percent of the time, on average. So, each time an entrepreneur walks into a bank seeking capital to start or expand his or her business, they might as well be poor Mendoza batting against fireballing Nolan Ryan. The results are going to be about the same – another frustrating effort often ending in failure.

Mendoza was just plain out of luck and out of baseball after a few lackluster seasons. There’s just not much of a market for players that can barely hit their weight. Small business owners, however, have found other options for their lending woes. Thanks in part to the power of the Internet, these entrepreneurs have discovered new funding sources ready to go to bat for them instead of tossing curveball after curveball their way.

Online lending has proven to be a home run for capital-hungry small businesses. In fact, it’s been such a hit that 2018 was the biggest year yet for online lenders. Unlike standard brick-and-mortar banks, online lenders have proven much more willing to lend needed money to startups or young businesses looking to grow. While banks may okay only 20 percent of small business loans, online lenders are approving three times that amount, earning many appreciative fans in the small business community. Another advantage in their favor over traditional banks is a more simplified application process and a faster review/approval.

Peer-to-peer lending offers entrepreneurs another funding alternative. Investopedia defines peer-to-peer lending as “a method of debt financing that enables individuals to borrow and lend money without the use of an official financial institution as an intermediary.” You may have heard peer-to-peer lending also called social lending or crowdfunding.

This method of funding works a little like on online dating service. Only in this case, it’s a business and investor that hook up, rather than two lonely hearts. A small business looking for money puts a profile of itself on a peer-to-peer online platform. Interested investors can view these profiles and assess whether they want to lend money. The investor can lend all or only part of what a business needs. If the small company only gets a portion of what it’s seeking, it can keep its profile active online for other potential investors. The small business and the investor(s) must agree on repayment plans and interest rates. And, of course, the online platform that brought the two (or more) parties together also gets a slice for providing the service. As you can imagine, however, it’s certainly much easier and quicker to obtain funding this way.

Since Mendoza seldom got on base, he wasn’t much of a base-stealing or scoring risk to opposing teams. But online lending and peer-to-peer lending do have risks which you should be aware of before trying them.

With online loans, fees and interest rates generally tend to be much higher than for traditional loans from a bank. Plus, there are often more fees attached to the online loan than loans from other sources.

Many online loans have set repayment provisions, and these provisions could wind up making the loan more of a hindrance down the road than a help. If you are expecting a traditional once-a-month payment plan, for example, you may be surprised to learn the online lender you’ve taken a loan from actually requires payment every week, or in the worst cases, even daily.

Finally, there is the security issue. News reports come out almost daily about online scams of all kinds. Just because someone has put up a website advertising online loans does not automatically mean it’s a legitimate firm. There’s the possibility it’s a fly-by-night outfit looking to steal your information and good name for their own nefarious uses or a lead gatherer who will then sell it to online lenders.

As for peer-to-peer lending, interest rates may prove problematic. These rates can often reach more than 30 percent, especially for companies the investors view as risky. After all, a peer-to-peer loan is an unsecured loan for the investor, which means no collateral for repayment should the borrower default. Investors want some assurance they won’t lose everything in case of default, and that’s accomplished partially through high interest rates.

When looking for capital via online or alternative funding sources such as peer-to-peer lending, it’s best not to immediately swing for the fences. Do plenty of research beforehand. A good hitter studies that night’s starting pitcher looking for clues as to each pitch’s speed, movement and location before stepping up to the plate. Make sure you have a solid grasp of your true needs and of the risks and benefits of these non-traditional funding sources before pursuing a loan. You may find these choices a great resource for your business… or you may discover you’re better off taking your chances with a traditional bank. The one thing you don’t want to do is desperately flail away and make a costly out or error that will end your season and perhaps even your business.

A better play might be to consider another form of raising needed money for expanding a business, adding employees, buying new equipment and improving cash flow. This option is called invoice factoring. Invoice factoring allows you to “sell” your accounts receivable invoices to a factoring company. The factoring company pays you upfront for outstanding invoices, giving you the cash you need today to run your business, and eliminating the worry and hassle of slow pay collections. That’s now the invoice factoring company’s concern, leaving you free to run your business.

Invoice factoring is a convenient alternative to a traditional bank loan or fee-laden online loans and risky crowdfunding. Each of these sources require a long-term contract. Factoring, however, gives you the money you need when you need it with no long-term obligations. You can also get cash quicker through invoice factoring – usually within a day or two. If you would like to learn more about how invoice factoring works and how it can step up to the plate for your business, simply call toll-free 1-855-219-6008 or email clientsupport@chartercapitalusa.com. You may find it a great addition to your lineup.

Colorado Senate committee hears debate over sweeping oil and gas bill [The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)]

March 06– Mar. 6–Fatal explosions, poisoned wells and shriveled property values hinge on Colorado’s oil and gas industry, many testified before a state Senate committee Tuesday.

But that industry drives the state’s economy, creates jobs and donates money and time to Colorado businesses and nonprofits, many others noted.

Controversy and hours of debate stemmed from Senate Bill 181, which Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, presented to the Committee on Transportation and Energy before hearing testimony from hundreds of witnesses Tuesday.

The bill would tighten regulations, prioritize health and safety over business development and give local governments control of industry permits.

The oil and gas industry still could operate, “but not at the expense of people’s health and safety,” Fenberg said.

Erin Martinez said such regulations might have saved her husband and brother, who were killed in a 2017 explosion in Firestone sparked by natural gas leaking from a nearby pipeline.

“With proper regulations and inspections and pressure testing, this entire tragedy could have been avoided,” Martinez told the committee.

Under the bill, local governments could inspect oil and gas operations and impose fines for leaks, spills and emissions. The legislation also would mandate that a majority of property owners over a common-source energy supply must consent to drilling.

And the bill would redefine the mission of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to place public health, safety and the environment above fostering or supporting the industry, which is the group’s current charge.

That change is important, as the commission has failed in its responsibilities, said Penny Weeber, a former resident of the Arapahoe Basin.

“I’ve seen my neighbor’s home become unlivable” because of noise from a nearby operation, Weeber said. “I’ve watched my neighbor Joel’s well become contaminated. COGCC is not protecting our water, it’s not protecting our health, and I urge you to make that change so that can happen.”

But many people in shirts proclaiming “I AM COLORADO OIL & GAS” gathered on the Capitol’s west steps to express displeasure with the bill.

Bradley Beck told the committee a working well sits in his Erie neighborhood, near a small park, and Encana Oil & Gas are “really good neighbors.” Beck said he rarely noticed the operation. “Once in a while, you can hear something. But hell, once in a while you can smell Greeley from my home, too.”

But another Erie resident said he and his two teenage daughters “are under siege. Erie is as much an oil field as it is a bedroom community.”

Local control is needed, and Fenberg’s measure is the right vehicle to provide it, said Brandy DeLange, legislative and policy advocate for the Colorado Municipal League.

Some local officials had a different perspective. Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer said the bill could demolish the economy in her county, home to the vast majority of Colorado oil operations and much natural gas work as well. Jobs would be lost, she said.

But counties and communities don’t have to enact tighter rules, as they’re optional, said Sen. Mike Foote, D-Lafayette.

Foote questioned industry proponents repeatedly as to how the bill would eliminate jobs. Some said tighter regulation would discourage companies from investing in the state and force others to leave. Others said fears of calamity are far overblown, and the industry would continue to profit.

The committee hadn’t voted as of press time, but even if the bill passed, two more committee hearings in the Senate and three in the House are likely, Fenberg said, so everyone will have ample opportunity to comment.

conrad.swanson@gazette.com

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(c)2019 The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)

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North Dakota oil industry maturing, study shows [The Bismarck Tribune, N.D.]

March 06– Mar. 6–A new economic impact study shows North Dakota’s oil industry is maturing, with more long-term jobs to maintain production and fewer temporary workers.

The oil industry had a $32.6 billion impact on the state’s economy in 2017, according to the study by North Dakota State University researchers.

Dean Bangsund, research scientist with NDSU’s Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics, highlighted some of his most recent findings at the state Capitol on Tuesday.

Bangsund and his colleague, Nancy Hodur of NDSU’s Center for Social Research, had said during the Bakken boom that communities should expect a shift in their workforce. They projected that North Dakota would have fewer drilling and hydraulic fracturing jobs filled by temporary workers and more jobs in production, transportation and processing of oil and gas.

In 2015, the numbers of temporary and long-term workers were about equal for the first time. From 2016 to 2018, the long-term workers became the largest sector, the study shows.

“This has probably happened faster than we thought,” Bangsund said Tuesday during an Energy Day event organized by the North Dakota Petroleum Council.

The industry also has made improvements with technology as the Bakken development has matured, increasing efficiency and requiring fewer workers, he said.

“We’re accomplishing more with less labor than we did a few years ago,” Bangsund said.

The shift to a more permanent workforce has led to increased birth rates and growing school enrollment numbers in western North Dakota, said Shawn Wenko, economic development director for Williston.

“More families are now coming to the area; they’re calling Williston home,” Wenko said.

The number of oil industry employees peaked in 2014 with nearly 63,000 workers, according to figures from Job Service North Dakota.

The steep drop in oil prices caused the workforce numbers to decline, hitting a low in 2016 of about 30,000 oil industry workers, the study showed. In 2018, the oil industry workforce number was estimated at 35,800, based on preliminary numbers.

The study showed that the state’s overall employment numbers mirrored the trend with the oil industry.

“The petroleum industry has such a large presence in the state, when employment goes up and down, the state’s employment goes up and down, almost in sync,” Bangsund said.

NDSU has now produced seven similar studies, funded by the North Dakota Petroleum Council, of the economic effect of the oil industry on the state. The industry’s impact on the state peaked in 2013 at $43.6 billion, the studies show.

North Dakota has seen “huge swings” in the economic impact from the oil industry since 2011, with ups and downs of $8 billion to $10 billion every two years, Bangsund said.

“That is a tremendous drop for any state economy to absorb,” he said.

About 300 people attended Energy Day on Tuesday, which included presentations on other oil industry advancements in the state.

At the beginning of Bakken development, the industry was recovering about 3 percent to 5 percent of the oil underground, said Blu Hulsey, senior vice president of government and regulatory affairs for Continental Resources.

Now, Continental Resources estimates it recovers 15 percent to 20 percent of the oil and continues to advance technology to increase that even more, Hulsey said.

The company also has reduced the time to drill a Bakken well from 33 days to 12 days, Hulsey said.

“It’s becoming faster and more efficient every year,” he said.

The North Dakota Petroleum Council did not host a social for legislators on Tuesday, a change from previous Energy Day events due to Measure 1, said Ron Ness, president of the industry group.

The organization is taking a “zero tolerance” approach to spending money on legislative events until new ethics rules are certain, Ness said.

The group held a social at Stonehome Brewing Company, but specified that it was a “no host” event and people had to pay their own way. Lunch was provided Tuesday by the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation.

“It’s changed substantially since Measure 1, which is unfortunate because that was a great chance for them to all get to meet and interact with their legislators from across the state,” Ness said.

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(c)2019 The Bismarck Tribune (Bismarck, N.D.)

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Bill would set lower pressure standards for trains carrying oil [The Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Wash.]

March 05– Mar. 5OLYMPIA — Trains carrying crude oil through Spokane and the rest of the state to Washington refineries would have to keep it under lower pressure under a bill supporters say will reduce the chance of catastrophic accidents.

On a 27-20 vote, the Senate sent to the House a bill that Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, called “an active step in reducing the threat” of Bakken oil. That crude oil is carried on trains that pass through downtown Spokane in sight of Lewis and Clark High School, hospitals, medical buildings and senior living facilities, he said.

The bill requires the oil in the tanks be loaded, unloaded and stored with vapor pressure below 9 pounds per square inch. The standard was set because in a Canadian derailment, the only tank of crude oil that didn’t explode was at 9 psi.

But critics of the bill argued lowering vapor pressure does not lower volatility, and the vapor is collected, processed and marketed at refineries at Anacortes. Restricting Bakken crude on trains would mean more oil tankers bringing the oil into the Puget Sound to deliver to refineries, they said.

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(c)2019 The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Wash.)

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Gasoline prices trending up [Times Record, Fort Smith, Ark.]

March 05– Mar. 5–The national gas price average has increased nearly 20 cents since the beginning of the year, which is the largest jump during the January-February timeframe since 2015, according to AAA.

The average price in Arkansas has risen about 4 cents a gallon in the past week and was $2.18 on Monday.

Pump prices rose steadily across the country in February when a number of refineries underwent planned and unplanned maintenance, AAA stated in its weekly fuel report. There was also an increase in crude oil prices.

The national average is now about $2.42 a gallon, which is 3 cents more than last week and 17-cents more than a month ago, but 10 cents cheaper than a year ago.

“Pump prices have been pushed higher this week due to reduced gasoline stock levels and increased demand,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “Motorists can expect gas prices to continue to increase as refineries gear up for spring gasoline production and maintenance season.”

Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy, noted in his weekly analysis that “rumors of a U.S.China trade deal may push oil prices higher as it would likely lead to increasing economic growth rates in both countries and pushing demand for oil higher.”

DeHaan points to another potential 20-cent hike over the next two months. And it could be higher if any refinery kinks arise.

“We’ll still be in good shape for summer gas prices to be under their year ago levels, so all is not lost,” DeHaan writes.

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(c)2019 Times Record (Fort Smith, Ark.)

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PSP report shows motive behind its initiative [Midland Reporter-Telegram, Texas]

March 05– Mar. 5The Permian Strategic Partnership wants to make an impact in the growing Permian Basin and has identified five areas in which its $100 million-plus in investments can be put to best use.

PSP officials spoke to the Midland City Council on Tuesday about the initiative and provided some detail about those five areas that — when improved — will help the Permian Basin reach its full potential.

Roads

More activity in the oil patch impacts the roads, which weren’t designed for the type of stress being put on them on a daily basis. During their presentation, PSP officials reminded the council that hydraulic fracturing of horizontal wells requires “substantially more road freight traffic than conventional drilling.”

“This effort is compounded by increasing utilization of locally mined sand,” according to a report provided to the Reporter-Telegram.

PSP officials said fracturing operations require 50 trucks of sand a day. And while they hope to get more trucks off the road in other facets of their operations, by 2022, truck loads will have increased by 125 percent from 2016.

RELATED: TxDOT: 11 percent of state’s fatalities happen in Permian Basin

This additional burden on the Permian’s roads is in addition to the 40 percent increase in traffic in the Texas Department of Transportation’sOdessa District between 2009 and 2016.

“We estimate that affected roads require more than $750 million in repairs and rehabilitation to close existing gaps, with the majority of that amount split between the Odessa district (of the Texas Department of Transportation) and the New Mexico Department of Transportation’sDistrict 2,” according to the report. “While this is a large investment, increased activity in the Permian Basin in Texas, for example, is likely to send $26 billion in Proposition 1 funds to Austin for roads through 2030, so every $1 invested today supports up to $50 in future collection.”

Workforce (and housing)

In 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported there was no region in the United States that could match Midland for its percentage increase in new jobs. PSP said that currently, there are 15,000 positions that remain unfilled across the Permian. They also reported that Permian production will support the creation of about 45,000 jobs across the region through 2030.

“Attracting new workers is becoming increasingly difficult given the housing shortage and higher costs of living,” the PSP report states. “Thus far, the industry has met most of its labor needs by relying on commuters, but this costly approach does not address other sectors — including health care, childcare, education, retail or services — that shape quality of life.

“To unleash growth, we must address three main challenges: attracting talented, hard-working people to the region, expanding the availability of housing choices and scaling up local vocational training to upskill the local workforce,” the report states.

Education

Midland voters have approved more than $220 million in bonds since 2003. PSP officials believe that investment isn’t enough. The PSP indicates that if Midland ISD and Ector County ISD had spent the state averages on facilities since 2000, both districts would have invested an additional $600 million.

The oil industry has a record of investing in education, whether it is funding the tax ratification election campaign in Midland in 2016 or donating millions that provided housing stipends for teachers dealing with rising rents and signing bonuses.

The PSP report echoes what industry leaders have been saying for a year: Oil industry professionals with children rate public education as the single greatest factor in evaluating a location change.

RELATED: PSP: Permian to become fourth largest oil producer in world

Midland and Odessa, for example, are at a great disadvantage because their public schools perform poorly,” the report states.

PSP also reports that capital funding has not kept pace with growth in the number of students, “casting doubt on the ability of current schools to absorb expected large growth in enrollments.”

“Research shows that student performance rises with teacher experience and quality — and declines with high teacher turnover and inconsistent leadership,” the report states. “Recent initiatives are producing measurable and encouraging improvements, but there is work to be done.”

Health care

Midland also falls short when it comes to the number of physicians required per person, compared to the national average, according to the PSP report.

In 2017, there were 89 primary care physicians — 41 fewer than the national benchmark. That same year, there were 145 non-primary care physicians — 117 fewer than the national benchmark.

“Fortunately, the Texas Tech University Medical School is a premier institution, and we see opportunities to strengthen ties and train more doctors in the region,” the report states. “A large share of the local population is insured, which is a clear strength, but improving quality of that coverage will bolster the financial position of the hospitals and the attractiveness of the region to new physicians. We can also close gaps in hospital infrastructure to improve overall health care, quality of life in the region and reduce the need for residents to travel for treatment.”

The Permian Strategic Partnership is made up of 20 leaders of the largest regional producers and global service companies. Last year, it announced its intention to provide more than $100 million over the next several years as seed money to spur additional private sector investment.

“By making wise, timely investments in vital public services, we can create a virtuous circle, attracting the talent we need to fill tens of thousands of good, high-paying jobs, significantly expanding the revenues and profits of companies in a broad range of sectors, and generate billions of additional tax dollars to make new investments,” the report states.

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(c)2019 the Midland Reporter-Telegram (Midland, Texas)

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Gas prices continue to rise on summer gas, refinery maintenance, trade deal rumors [The Valley News-Dispatch, Tarentum, Pa.]

March 04– Mar. 4–Gas prices are continuing to rise in Pittsburgh and across much of the country, with every area now starting the first step in the transition to summer gasoline at the same time refiners are continuing maintenance, an industry analyst said.

Rumors of a trade deal between the U.S. and China may also push oil prices higher, “as it would likely lead to increasing economic growth rates in both countries and pushing demand for oil higher,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy.

“Since gas prices bottomed out nearly two months ago, average gas prices are up 20 cents,” he said. “We may see another 20 cent hike or so over the next two months, or perhaps greater if there are any refinery kinks that arise.

“We’ll still be in good shape for summer gas prices to be under their year ago levels, so all is not lost.”

In Pittsburgh, gas prices have risen 1.8 cents per gallon in the past week to an average of $2.66, according to GasBuddy’s survey of 731 stations. That’s 16.9 cents per gallon higher than a month ago, but 15.4 cents per gallon lower than a year ago.

According to GasBuddy price reports, the cheapest station in Pittsburgh is priced at $2.41 per gallon; the most expensive is $2.79, a difference of 38 cents per gallon. Across the state, per gallon prices range from $2.42 to $2.89.

Nationally, the average is up 2.7 cents per gallon in the last week to an average of $2.43. It’s up 15.6 cents per gallon from a month ago, but is 9.1 cents per gallon lower than a year ago.

National gas prices range from a low of $1.86 to as high as $4.99 per gallon.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, brittmeyer@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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(c)2019 The Valley News-Dispatch (Tarentum, Pa.)

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Stamford-based Patriot Bank Grows Amid Federal Scrutiny

Banks and banking

STAMFORD — Patriot Bank reported this week increasing assets for the past year — growth that comes as the company carries out a federally imposed plan to rectify a number of management issues.

For all of 2018, Patriot recorded a 12 percent rise in assets and 17 percent uptick in deposits, along with a $3 million profit. Patriot officials said they expected more gains next year, while implementing changes stipulated by an agreement last November with the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

“We’re well capitalized, and we have consistent growth in earnings and good credit quality,” Patriot Bank Chief Financial Officer Joseph Perillo said Wednesday. “The comments from the OCC were primarily related to policies and procedures and the documentation related to them, not the overall financial health of Patriot.”

As part of its agreement with the OCC, Patriot was designated as being in “troubled condition.” The OCC said it had found “unsafe and unsound” practices relating to the bank’s corporate governance, capital and strategic planning, internal auditing, credit administration, methodology for loan and lease losses, administration of leveraged loans, asset-liability management and interest-rate risk modeling.

Patriot was required to make a number of changes including the appointment of a compliance committee of at least three directors. A majority of them cannot be employees or controlling shareholders of the bank or any of its affiliates.

In addition, the agreement requires more stringent policies and procedures governing the other areas flagged by the OCC.

The accord with the OCC did not impose any fines or other penalties on Patriot.

“We’ve had ongoing discussions with the OCC, and they’re very happy to see what we’ve implemented is consistent with what they asked for,” Perillo said. “We made really good progress, and we’re on a strong path.”

A spokeswoman for the OCC declined to comment on Patriot’s enactment of the agreement.

In the meantime, Patriot is pressing ahead with its major initiatives, including the growth of its small-business operations.

Patriot became an approved Small Business Administration lender in late 2017 and was subsequently designated a “preferred lender” by the SBA, classifications that it said enabled it to approve loans more efficiently to small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Last February, the bank announced it would acquire Los Angeles-based Hana Financial’s government-backed small business lending unit.

The deal has not yet been completed. Initially, it would have involved the acquisition of more than $100 million in SBA loans on Hana’s balance sheet.

Based on recent negotiations, however, the deal would likely see Patriot purchase about 20 to 25 percent of the originally discussed amount of loans. Patriot would still acquire Hana’s loan-origination and loan-servicing operations.

Meanwhile, Patriot has expanded its small-business lending to Atlanta; Indianapolis, Ind.; and Jacksonville, Fla. It has set up small-business development offices in those markets.

Among other major initiatives, Patriot completed last May its acquisition of Orange-based Prime Bank. The merger added a Patriot branch in Orange.

The bank also has branches in Stamford, Greenwich, Darien, Fairfield, Norwalk, Westport, Milford and Scarsdale, N.Y. It is headquartered at 900 Bedford St., in Stamford.

Patriot finished 2018 with around $952 million in assets and about $743 million in deposits. In 2019, the bank expects assets to surpass $1 billion, according to Perillo.

“We’re well positioned, and we expect to see positive results from our investments in 2019,” Perillo said. “We’re very optimistic.”

pschott@scni.com; 203-964-2236; twitter: @paulschott

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©2019 The Advocate (Stamford, Conn.)

Visit The Advocate (Stamford, Conn.) at www.stamfordadvocate.com

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Wild Ohio Brewing has new facility for tea beer [The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio]

March 01– Mar. 1–Tea beer is brewing on the South Side.

Wild Ohio Brewing, which brews beer from tea, has opened a 10,400-square-feet brewery facility at 2025 S. High St. that is expected to be finished by the end of April.

Wild Ohio burst on the craft beer scene in 2016 when CEO Russell Pinto bought and rebranded Luna Kombucha in Clintonville. Wild Ohio contracted with Four Strings Brewing Co. to make the beer but was forced to move operations to FigLeaf Brewing Company north of Cincinnati after Four Strings closed in October.

“People aren’t used to hearing tea beer, so it’s a unique approach to the beer category,” said Mark Bivenour, CEO of Star Distributing.

Wild Ohio’s production facility, which won’t include a taproom, is owned by Fortner Upholstering, a 90-year-old Columbus maker of upholstered furniture, and is part of a 230,000-square-foot complex at 2000-2060 S. High St. called “The Fort.” In 2017, Fortner Upholstering bought the property, which was formerly a Seagraves Fire Truck Manufacturing plant.

Tea beer is made from green or black tea that is fermented with fruit juice and yeast. Wild Ohio flavors include blueberry, blood orange tangerine, mango, black cherry bourbon, cranberry, dalypalmer and peach. The company plans to release mango passion fruit in April and and candy cane for Christmas. Wild Ohio is gluten-free with no barley or malt in their beer. The only Wild Ohio beer to include hops in the mango flavor.

The beers include about the same alcohol content as craft beers.

“It tastes like you’re drinking juice,” Pinto said.

People all over the country ask Pinto to bring his beer to their part of the country.

“Someone from Boston messaged me and said ‘Come to Boston, we’ll have a real tea party,’ ” Pinto said.

A 47-year-old woman told Pinto she had never had beer in her life but now can’t get enough of Wild Ohio, and keeps cans in her fridge at all times.

“(Tea beer) is something different, it’s something unique,” Pinto said. “The taste is good and it doesn’t fill you up.”

Wild Ohio sales have been on the rise and the company hopes to post $3 million in sales this year.

The beer can be found at Giant Eagle, Meijer, and Target.

mhenry@dispatch.com

@megankhenry

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(c)2019 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)

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How would Boulder County governments use expanded local control over oil and gas made possible by proposed legislation? [Daily Times-Call, Longmont, Colo.]

March 01– Mar. 1Boulder County’s local governments over the past several years have made numerous attempts to use land use and zoning regulations to set their own rules for approving new oil and gas extraction plans.

Those rules have nearly always faced legal challenges from the oil and gas industry, which pointed to state laws implying a city or county has little authority to determine the placement of drilling operations within their jurisdictions.

It is unclear whether those local governments’ past attempts to curb oil and gas activity could come into play — or if they would be replaced by new rules — if that authority is strengthened and clarified by a bill that could be introduced to the state Legislature as soon as Friday.

Could Longmont’s voter-approved ban on fracking that was struck down in 2016 by the Colorado Supreme Court legally return? Would Broomfield stick with oil and gas regulations voters approved in 2017 that residents have accused the city of neglecting to enforce? Could Longmont better position itself with updated land use codes for oil and gas than it already has with last year’s $3 million deal with drilling operators to end surface activity within city limits?

The bill proposes sweeping changes to Colorado’s oil and gas regulatory process, including, most notably, giving local governments.

expanded land use power over drilling.

“In the past, localities have tried to play the best hand based on the cards they were dealt,” state Sen. Mike Foote, D-Lafayette, said. “Some were trying to push it and do what they could under current case law and (state) law. If this bill were passed, they would have another set of cards to play. They may not cut and paste regulations (from the past), because they have a new starting point.”

Boulder County would act fast in taking advantage of the bill’s provisions if it is signed into law.

“If the legislation changes local authority, the county will promptly review its existing regulations and make any changes made possible by the new law,” Boulder County spokeswoman Gabi Boerkircher said.

Boulder’s city government likely would do the same, according to the city’s policy advisor Carl Castillo. He added that Boulder’s extension last year of its moratorium on new drilling in the city through May 2020 was well-timed, if this bill becomes law, to allow city staff to account for the changes to state rules that were expected while drafting new municipal rules for oil and gas.

“There has been so much uncertainty through cases being appealed and laws being conflated, it sounds like this bill if it passes … it would provide the clarity we needed to make some recommendations,” Castillo said. “… You can bet our city council would be interested in adopting those (most) protective authorities as possible to protect our community.”

But Longmont’s agreement struck last year with Cub Creek Energy and TOP Operating that ceased new surface drilling in the city complicates what it might consider if offered greater sway over oil and gas in the city, Councilwoman Marcia Martin said.

“The city is pretty satisfied with the position it’s in right now. I don’t see us needing to take any action right now,” Martin said, adding she could change her mind once she reviews the language in the planned bill.

Residents of Boulder and Broomfield counties also are anxious to review the bill’s language, which is not yet public. But Lookout Alliance, a group formed to combat Extraction Oil and Gas plans to drill near and likely below public open space in the Gunbarrel area, supports its premise to expand local control as described Thursday by lawmakers.

Colorado communities such as ours desperately need decision-making power to be able to protect ourselves from drilling and to prioritize health, safety and the environment,” Lookout Alliance member Lon Goldstein stated in an email. “We will be closely examining the proposed oil and gas legislation to see if the details of the bill will offer the protections that are being promised.”

The bill also would boost the amount of minerals in a given area a drilling operator must own before a forced pooling order — which drags non-consenting property owners’ minerals into an extraction project against their will — can be issued.

Advocacy group Colorado Rising does not expect the new bill, if passed, to have an impact on the merits of its lawsuit filed in Denver federal court on behalf of a Broomfield neighborhood, Wildgrass, challenging the constitutionality of the forced pooling provisions Extraction Oil and Gas is using to establish its right to drill beneath nearby homes.

“The increase in the threshold for leasees before a pooling order can be issued does not address the unconstitutionality of Colorado forced pooling laws, therefore we don’t anticipate it having an impact,” Colorado Rising spokesperson Anne Lee Foster said.

Sam Lounsberry: 303-473-1322, slounsberry@prairiemountainmedia.com and twitter.com/samlounz.

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