"BLOG: CT craft breweries $569 million-plus economic impact"

Farm Brewery Permit - Campaign for Tomorrows Jobs

As craft breweries flood Connecticut, state lawmakers are debating several pro-industry bills that, if passed, will mean new jobs and economic growth here at home.

Connecticut is currently home to more than 50 craft breweries, according to the Hartford Courant.

The state’s booming craft brewing industry produces more than 100,000 barrels of craft beer annually, with an economic impact of $569 million-plus, according to the Brewers Association.

Craft brewery growth in Connecticut isn’t showing signs of slowing down anytime soon.

In addition to the currently operational craft breweries in Connecticut, there are nearly 40 new breweries in the planning stages in various cities and towns across the state.

Here are a few examples:

It's not just Connecticut that is experiencing craft brewery growth. It's happening all across the country.

NATIONAL CRAFT BREWERY BOON

In 1986, there were 124 craft breweries nationwide. That number climbed to 5,301 by 2016, according to the Brewers Association, with 3,841 craft breweries opening their doors in the last decade.

Across the country, craft brewers created almost 7,000 jobs in 2016, bringing the total amount of industry jobs to nearly 129,000, according to the Brewers Association. Craft brewers also saw a six percent year-over-year rise in volume, producing over 24.6 million gallons of beer. Also, last year, 826 craft breweries opened their doors, and only 97 closed—and there’s no slowing down.

Although craft breweries seem to be popping up everywhere, there’s still a lot of room for growth. In fact, over 1,000 cities with populations of more than 10,000 people still do not have a craft brewery, confirming that there is still room for growth in the marketplace.

With room to grow, the craft brewery market has yet to reach saturation. However, states are battling one another in the competition for tomorrow’s craft brewer industry jobs, and many of Connecticut’s neighboring states are currently in a better position to win the fight.

NEIGHBORING STATES

Similar to many other economic growth areas, Connecticut lags behind several of its neighboring states when it comes to craft breweries.

For example, Massachusetts currently has more than 80 craft breweries with an annual economic impact of more than $1.4 billion, according to the Brewers Association.

Also, New York has over 200 craft breweries with an annual economic impact of nearly $3 billion.

Massachusetts and New York each have a leg up on Connecticut when it comes to craft brewery growth due, in part, to a better regulatory environment for craft brewers.

Thankfully, many state lawmakers are working on initiatives to improve Connecticut's regulatory framework for craft brewers. These efforts include:

  • Establishing a manufacturer permit for farm brewers;
     
  • Providing incentives for redeveloping run-down properties referred to as "brownfields," and;
     
  • Developing standards for alternative wastewater treatment systems.

FARM BREWER PERMIT

Following the passage of legislation by the New York General Assembly, and Governor Cuomo signing the bill into law, the Empire State created a license for farm brewers in 2013. Since then, more than 129 farm brewers in New York have been permitted, helping to create jobs and grow the state's economy.

To win the competition for tomorrow’s jobs, Connecticut must remain competitive with our neighboring states. That’s why a legislative effort to create a permit for farm brewers in Connecticut is so important.

The license would cost each permittee $300, subsequently allowing the permitted to manufacture, store, bottle, distribute, and sell up to 50,000 gallons of beer that is brewed on a farm annually. Also, permittees can officially advertise their product as "Connecticut Craft Beer."

Currently, the bill has been passed by Connecticut's House of Representatives and awaits approval from the Senate. For more information on An Act Establishing a Farm Brewery Manufacturer Permit (H.B. 5580), click here: http://bit.ly/2o1rCGK.

By bringing agriculture and craft breweries together, we can help to revitalize Connecticut's economy further and to create good-paying jobs for generations to come.

REVITALIZING RUN DOWN PROPERTIES

Redeveloping polluted property known as "brownfields'' may be one of the most beneficial synergies emerging from the growth of craft breweries.

A brownfield is an abandoned or underutilized site where redevelopment, reuse, or expansion has not occurred due to pollution in the buildings, soil, or groundwater.

Therefore, a brownfield site requires remediation to restore, redevelop, repurpose, and expand the property. For example, Two Roads Brewery in Stratford now sits on a former brownfield site that has been remediated and redeveloped with assistance from the state’s brownfield program.

The U.S. Baird Company shipped its presses from this Stratford location for more than a century and a half, however, the company vacated the nearly 2 acres of industrial property in 2007.

The company's departure left behind a brownfield, requiring costly remediation to get the property up to snuff for a new business to develop it and create jobs on the site.

Two Roads Brewery purchased the property. To help with its $20 million renovation project, it was awarded a $500,000 brownfield grant from the state, in addition to other state generated economic development incentives.

Today, the company occupies 100,000 square feet of space used for brewing, tasting, storage, and office space. The company has also created more than 40 jobs and is still growing.

Stories like this help illustrate why brownfield remediation programs are critical to revitalizing communities, and turning run-down old factories into engines for economic growth.

That's why legislative efforts that provide incentives for brownfield remediation and redevelopment, including a 7/7 brownfield program proposal, are necessary. The bill was successfully passed out of the state legislature’s Commerce Committee and awaits further action by the entire General Assembly.

For more information on An Act Establishing the 7/7 Program to Encourage the Redevelopment of Brownfields and Underutilized Property (S.B. 623), click here: http://bit.ly/2ngBOOx.

WASTEWATER TREATMENT

Wastewater treatment is a critical issue for all craft breweries, especially those in areas without a municipal wastewater treatment plant. In fact, brewers use seven gallons of water for every one gallon of beer they produce.

If there is no municipal wastewater system, craft brewers need an alternative or risk getting buried by high fees that will put them out of business.

Not only does a lack of a wastewater treatment solution hurt brewers, but it also causes harm to cities and towns that don't have municipal sewer systems. However, there is a solution that consists of alternative treatment septic tanks.

Connecticut is at a disadvantage due to a lack of standards when compared to neighboring states. That's what a proposed alternative wastewater treatment bill seeks to address.

The bill was passed out of the state legislature’s Environment Committee and awaits further action by the Appropriations Committee.

For more information on An Act Concerning Funding for Alternative Treatment Septic Systems (H.B. 6332), click here: http://bit.ly/2oNsEGr.

Passing this legislation will help make Connecticut a place where more entrepreneurs, including those in the booming craft brewery industry, take an even closer look at growing and thriving in new areas across our great state.

CT'S CRAFT BREWERY FUTURE

Clearly, the future is bright for Connecticut craft brewery growth, and the industry’s ability to create tomorrow's jobs right here at home.

However, to win the competition for tomorrow's craft brewery jobs, state lawmakers must ensure that we're providing the right incentives that bring craft brewers to Connecticut. This is an economic opportunity that the Nutmeg State should pursue with enthusiasm.