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Santa Cruz Ice Cream Shop Owners to Sit in Michelle Obama’s Box at State of the Union

| January 25, 2011
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There’ll be a little local action going on tonight at the State of the Union address. From the Santa Cruz Sentinel:

The owners of Santa Cruz’s Penny Ice Creamery will be “in the House” for President Obama’s State of the Union Address on Tuesday.

The pair, Kendra Baker and Zach Davis, will join their spouses in first lady Michelle Obama’s box in the House of Representatives chamber when the president delivers his annual address, according to a press statement from the White House late Monday. The first lady invited the owners of the organic ice cream shop to highlight how federal stimulus funds enabled small business loans. Full article

The Obama administration took note of the pair and their ice cream shop after they sent a thank you letter in the form of a YouTube video to President Obama, Senators Boxer and Feinstein, and Rep. Sam Farr for passing the stimulus bill. The legislation provided small-business loan guarantees that enabled Baker and Davis to start up their business venture. Vice President Joe Biden then called them — also recorded in a YouTube video — to say thanks for the thank you. “So here’s the deal,” said the Veep. “I’m coming for ice cream.” (Guess he hasn’t dropped by yet or we’d have seen a two-hour movie about it.)

Here are the videos:

A thank you from the Penny Ice Creamery:

Joe Biden responds:

Perhaps more interesting than these made-for-YouTube messages is the debate that’s gone on in the comments section of Baker and Davis’ video page. Here’s one highlighted thread:

Nice commercial – but am curious who produced it – what professional put this video together as it is not a novice venture. Also, whose idea was it to produce the video, etc. Who paid for it – did the $ come from The Penny Ice Creamery or someone else? We all know the bottom line is that the tax payers paid for it – but there seems more to this video production that I, for one, would like to know. It just seems to be more a political commercial for the SBA, Obama Admin., etc. Humm????
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Response: Believe it or not, Zach shot the video on his iPhone and edited it with iMovie. Kendra’s husband put the music together. We did it all on a Monday (the only day the shop is closed).
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Glad it worked out for you guys, but I called 8 banks here in my area when the SBA ARC loans and others were announced. Guess what….no banks on the SBA list were even doing the loans, because they are ” a paper work nightmare”. One bank admitted, “we don’t make any money on them”.  And my company has been in business over 20 years, and has never had a bankruptcy, defaulted loan, or even any debt. I’d love to know the secret for getting SBA funds.
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Response: Not much of a secret. We spend two years putting the shop together and part of that was 6 months of back and forth with the bank. We feel very fortunate that our bank was able to lend, but I would encourage you to be persistent and if necessary involve your local and regional elected officials to put pressure on the banks. You’ve probably already tried this but I would recommend trying local banks as they are more beholden to the community.
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Shouldn’t you be thanking the U.S. taxpayer first and foremost? After all, we are the one’s that underwrote your loan to begin with.

We are the one’s that would pay the bank 90% of the loan when and if you guys defaulted.

That being said, I wish you the best of luck ;-)
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This is by no means a definitive list of the people we need to thank. This was and continues to be an amazingly collaborative effort, and we are grateful to everyone who has supported us both directly and indirectly.

Here’s a KSBW TV interview with Baker and Davis from yesterday.

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