December 13, 2011

Brewery Grants

Last week the state of new york and Schoharie county approved $890,000 in grants for Ommegang brewery ($140,000) and Butternuts brewery ($750,000). Ommegang brewery received funds to assist with a $16 million expansion including a wastewater treatment plant and several new buildings. Butternuts brewery is gaining funding to move production into a long vacant industrial park allowing increased production to 25,000 barrels per year and eventually to 100,000 barrels per year.

News of the breweries receiving grant money has not been very well received among residents of Schoharie country and New York State. Many people see the grants for the breweries as unnecessary considering many residents homes were destroyed during hurricane Irene. Further Brewery Ommengang has threatened to leave their cooperstown location, taking the jobs it provides with them if hydro fracking is allowed in their watershed. People don't like seeing them being given free money when they are threatening to leave.

These are not the first two breweries to ever receive grants. Craft breweries are quite often very community oriented organizations. Breweries the size of Ommegang and Butternuts generally employ around 50 to 100 people and support other industries such as distributors, trucking companies and retail outlets. Grant money will serve to keep these community oriented breweries to stay where they are needed and to provide jobs in an area that really needs them.

In short grant money goes towards lots of things, while grant money is available to individuals for housing repairs it is probably not enough. However small business needs grant money too, without grant money to support small business job creation would fall off.

Maybe I'm partial to breweries receiving grant money (especially Ommegang because I love their beers) but I really would like to hope these companies realize the favor they have been granted and will take steps to be even more involved in their communities and provide some support for their neighbors who were victims of hurricane Irene.

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