SC Lawmakers Pass Brewery Bill to Attract Possible $31 Million, - WSPA.com

SC Lawmakers Pass Brewery Bill to Attract Possible $31 Million, 400 Jobs

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COLUMBIA, S.C. - South Carolina lawmakers are hoping a bill they just passed will mean Stone Brewing Co. will choose the state for its East Coast expansion, which could mean 400 jobs and an investment of $31 million.

The bill loosens restrictions on craft breweries, allowing them to open restaurants on site and to sell more beer to visitors. They could also sell beer and wine made by other companies. The bill would apply to any craft brewery, not just Stone.

"In terms of economic development, it puts us on a level playing field and a more competitive playing field with other states in attracting these out-of-state projects, which would be a benefit for everyone," says Rep. Derham Cole, R-Spartanburg, one of the co-sponsors of the bill. "Having the ability to have the on-site restaurant just gives them a lot more latitude in promoting their product and attracting people from across the state and from outside the state." 

Sen. Sean Bennett, R-Summerville, who helped push the bill through the Senate, says, "North Carolina, our sister states in North Carolina and Georgia have already really capitalized on that industry. It makes us now, I think, the epicenter, puts us in a really good position. We know we have a couple of large projects looking at us right now, different locations through the state. I think that will only increase as time goes by, the word gets out that this bill has passed."

Stone Brewing Co. spokesperson Sabrina Lopiccolo says, “We have not made a decision as to where our East Coast brewery will be located.  While we applaud the legislation in South Carolina and any like it, this necessary element is but one of many factored into our decision making laid out in our request for proposal.”

The numbers show that South Carolina is behind its neighboring states in attracting craft brewers.

In 2012, South Carolina had 15 craft breweries, with 2,909 jobs and an economic impact of $254 million.

That same year, Georgia had more than 30 breweries, 6,832 jobs and an economic impact of $671 million.

North Carolina has 120 craft breweries, about 10,000 people employed by them, and an economic impact of $791 million.

Robert Kittle
Robert is the 7 On Your Side reporter covering politics and government at the Statehouse in Columbia, S.C.
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