There's a new plan for reviving local economies, and it doesn't involve tax cuts or balancing the budget. Look no further than craft beer breweries. It is no new theory that small businesses create jobs and bolster the economy, and the craft beer industry is doing just that throughout the nation.
Craft breweries have been sprouting across the U.S, emerging most often in shoddy neighborhoods. Defined as beers of independent and small nature: "craft breweries are not owned by any large industries and only produce a certain amount of beer per year." They are quickly growing in popularity, currently accounting for seven percent of the U.S beer market. The upsurge in craft breweries is not only changing the landscape of the beer market but also of the local economies in which breweries are emerging.
Recent history has demonstrated the trend that breweries initiate local economic revival. According to an article in the Huffington Post, over the past few decades, "the arrival of a craft brewery was also often one of the first signs that a neighborhood was changing."
The story goes something like this: a craft brewer looking for a spot to test drive his talent finds an abandoned warehouse in a dilapidated neighborhood. Where the beer flows, new businesses emerge and young people follow in search of jobs. Before long, those young people settle, start their own families and, ultimately, new and flourishing communities. This is the very trend that cities such as Cleveland, Brooklyn, Boston, Oakland, and Delaware.
Perhaps no city illustrates the trend as well as Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Over the past decade, the city has evolved from a worn down and undesirable area to one of the trendiest, gentrified New York zip codes. According to the Huffington Post, Brooklyn Brewery opened in 1996 in an old iron foundry built in 1896. Today, the upscale neighborhood populated by hip bars and restaurants, shops and pricey apartments gives no indication of its past, a city inhabited by rows of abandoned warehouses.
Through tours and beer tastings, Brooklyn Brewery attracts many young visitors who spend their money in Williamsburg. But despite the success the brewery has introduced to its home city, "rising prices might force Brooklyn Brewery to exit the trendy scene it jump-started." Brooklyn is now a tremendously desirable place to live in close proximity to Manhattan but much more affordable. But don't be deceived — Williamsburg is hardly cheap. In the past ten years along, the value of homes in Brooklyn have risen 145%, said real estate appraiser Miller Samuel.
The introduction of Great Lakes Brewing in Cleveland, Ohio tells a similar story. Since the manufacturing jobs went dry in the late 1970s, the area has been "perceived as dangerous and blighted." The Brewery spearheaded the influx of businesses into the worn down city. According to the Huffington Post, "a pasta maker, a bike shop, a tortilla factory, as well as restaurants and bars" followed the lead of Great Lakes Brewing and brought with them a revived, young population.
According to CNBC, The 21st Amendment brewery located near Giant's Stadium in San Francisco, Calif., has been so successful in rejuvenating the South of Market area. In fact, founder Nico Freccia, said that he is looking to open a second Brewery to "help anchor the revitalization" of East Bay, Oakland.
Finally, in 2002 Dogfish Head Brewery opened in a 1927 warehouse in Milford, Delaware and catalyzed the revival of the town, "creating more than 100 jobs and bringing about 25,000 people each year to tour its 11-acre campus." According to Mike DiPaolo who serves on the Lewes Historical Society and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the presence of the local craft brewery revived Milton.
The craft beer industry holds the key to urban renewal. These ambitious entrepreneurs turn immense spaces in cheap, industrial neighborhoods into sophisticated microbreweries. Emerging businesses notice the potential opportunities and follow the beer, creating new jobs. Soon enough, these forgotten enclaves are bustling cities, freshly populated with young people eager to spend and reignite the struggling economy.
Cheers. You can drink to that.