A New Hampshire man is calling it the invitation of a lifetime. He's been asked to be a part of President Joe Biden’s address to Congress Wednesday night.
Berlin business owner Adam Hammil helped secure federal relief in the American Rescue Plan for people who opened businesses during the pandemic.
His passion started as a cook in the Coast Guard.
“I loved slow-cooking pork,” he said. “It was one of my favorite things to make for my crew.”
And now Hammill is serving up his famous carnitas at his restaurant, Exile Burrito.
“I am passionate about giving back to my community and watching it grow and thrive,” he said.
While many restaurants were closing amid the pandemic, Hammill had the guts to open. He knew a take-out joint would work even during the shutdown, and he said there was a market for Mexican food.
“We have 14 restaurants in Berlin, New Hampshire, and 11 are pizza places,” he said.
The problem came when he tried to apply for a PPP loan or any small business stimulus funds. He wasn’t eligible because he didn’t have 2019 tax returns.
“It felt like we were being forgotten and left behind,” Hammill said.
So, he took his concerns to Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-New Hampshire, who then turned to her colleagues in Congress.
“Literally, people sat up and went, ‘Oh, that doesn’t make sense,’” Hassan said. “So, Adam really made a huge difference.”
Now, under the American Rescue Plan, starting in July, anyone who opened a business after Feb. 15, 2020, will have access to refundable tax credits to pay salaries and health benefits for their employees.
“I’m not going to lie, it’s the proudest moments of my life, to see this first-hand,” Hammill said.
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And to honor his work, Hassan has invited Hammill to be a special "virtual" guest at Biden’s first address to Congress Wednesday night.
“That’s incredible. Again, a memory I won’t forget,” he said.
Hammill said he plans to hire an additional four employees with the help from the American Rescue Plan.