Governments Encourage Drink that Consumers Are Rejecting
(p. A9) From coast to coast, urban planners are increasingly looking to craft breweries as the magic elixir to renew struggling urban cores.
Two years ago, Richmond, Va., put up $33 million in public money and incentives to entice Stone Brewing to build a retail store, tasting room and East Coast distribution center. Shortly thereafter the state of Virginia extended $1 million in grants and $1 million in matching tax credits to help Hardywood Park Craft Brewery expand into an office park in Goochland County. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported at the time that Virginia had specifically "targeted craft beverages as part of the state's economic development strategy."
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Small towns are getting in on the action, too. At a meeting in November, the city council of Florence, S.C., population 38,000, approved an incentive package totaling $180,000 to encourage a craft brewery to set up shop beside town hall. The month before that, the city council of Reidsville, N.C., population 14,000, voted to sell a city-owned building for $1 to a startup brewing co-op. In tiny Perry, N.Y., population 4,000, a public development corporation matched bank financing this year to help a microbrewery build in its downtown.
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But here's the rub: Demand for beer overall has been sliding in the U.S. for years. Twenty years ago, nearly three-quarters of young people said it was their favorite alcoholic drink, according to surveys by Gallup and Goldman Sachs Investor Research. Less than half feel that way now. The market is shrinking, and craft beer has grown at the expense of national brands like Budweiser, Miller and Coors.
For the full commentary, see:
JEREMY BAGOTT. "What Craft Brewers Want to Tap Next: the Taxpayer; Trendy suds are seen as a way to save city centers, never mind that beer sales have been sliding for years." The Wall Street Journal (Sat., Dec. 31, 2016): A9.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Dec. 30, 2016.)