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Other views: Craft beverage industry critical to Oregon

Corvallis Gazette-Times

Published on December 13, 2017 2:46PM

Here’s something to ponder the next time you’re sipping on one of Oregon’s microbrews:

The craft beverage business has become so important to the state’s economy that an Oregon city is offering incentives to a brewery to open an establishment there.

The city in question is Madras, 40 miles to the north of Bend, one of the state’s unquestioned capitals for craft breweries. Madras officials are weary of losing all that business to Bend, so they’re on the hunt for an enterprising brewery to open in their city. According to a recent Associated Press story, Madras officials say they’ll assist in site selection and costs of architecture, engineering, permits and building renovation. The city also offers expedited permitting, technical assistance and an opportunity for a startup loan.

In other words, all an applicant need do is bring brewing skills. The city will help take care of just about everything else.

“Madras is ready for a brewery or brew pub to call its own,” Madras Mayor Royce Embanks says in the online appeal from the Madras Redevelopment Commission. “The vision is for a vibrant community gathering place and an inviting destination for friends, family and tourists.”

Leaving aside for a second the fact that Madras has 6,300 residents compared to the 91,000 souls who occupy Bend, the notion that an Oregon city or town isn’t complete without its own brewery is interesting.

Certainly, the numbers confirm the booming business in Oregon craft beverages: Consumption of craft beer in the United States in 2016 rose 6.2 percent, to 24 million barrels, according to the Brewers Association. (This doesn’t even take into the account the growing business in distilleries.)

Vermont has the most craft breweries per capita in the nation, with 10.8 per 100,000 adults. Oregon isn’t far behind: It ranks fourth in the nation, with 8.1 breweries for every 100,000 adults.

And if you’re looking to document the economic impact from craft breweries, consider this: The Oregon Brewers Guild says that the state’s brewing establishments employed more than 9,000 people in 2016 and that the rate of job growth from 2015 to 2016 was 8.3 percent.

No wonder Madras wants its cut of the action. And if this scheme pans out for Madras, it could usher in a new economic strategy for officials: Instead of boasting about “shovel-ready” property, developers could say they have a location that’s “tap-ready.”

Maybe it’s unreasonable to assume that every Oregon nook and cranny can have its own brewpub. But it sounds as if communities are willing to give it a shot. That’s good news for fans of good brew — not to mention their designated drivers.


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