Councilmembers Applaud New Economic Development Incentive for Craft Breweries, Cideries, Wineries and Distilleries
Incentive program for filling Class A and B office space expands at request of Council President Riemer and Councilmember Leventhal
ROCKVILLE, Md., Feb. 1, 2018—County Executive Isiah Leggett expanded an economic development incentive for new businesses taking office space to include craft breweries, cideries, wineries, and distilleries, which is a change requested by Montgomery County Council President Hans Riemer and Councilmember George Leventhal.
Following a Council committee discussion, Council President Riemer and Councilmember Leventhal wrote to County Executive Leggett in October 2017 urging him to expand the eligibility criteria for the MOVE (Make Office Vacancy Extinct) Program, which is part of the County’s Economic Development Fund, to include businesses that produce alcohol, beer, cider, and wine. Their request noted the importance of the craft alcohol production sector to the County’s overall economic development goals and the significant financial barrier to entry for this business sector because of high capital costs. The County Executive sent a response letter on January 24, 2018 stating that he had made the change.
“Local alcohol producers such as breweries contribute to vibrant downtowns, where workers and companies want to be,” said Council President Riemer. “Because many breweries also sell beer directly to customers who walk in, they have a retail component. As a result of the retail component, these businesses were not eligible for the MOVE new lease incentive program when taking office space. Having a brewery take a ground level office space is a win-win for the County. I applaud the County Executive for changing the MOVE program to include them. This is another strong step forward for our local production industry and hopefully one more reason for entrepreneurs in this industry to call Montgomery County the best place in the DMV to start a business.”
Initial investments for craft breweries, wineries, and distilleries can reach several million dollars, which these entrepreneurs cite as one of the largest hurdles to launching successful businesses. In return for the County’s investment in these businesses, they produce good-paying jobs and contribute to the vitality of the neighborhoods they are located in.
“This regulatory change is an example of ‘government that works,’ said Councilmember Leventhal. “Craft alcohol business owners met with their local government representatives to find a new way that we could invest in their futures and the County’s economic prosperity. In addition to creating good middle-class jobs, these establishments also help to create a sense of place in our communities. This is a win-win proposition for businesses and the residents we represent.”
Building on work initiated by the County’s Night Time Economy Task Force, the Council has worked with State legislators and local businesses to address many regulatory and legal issues associated with the craft alcohol production industry including:
- Eliminating water and sewer connection fees for craft breweries, wineries, and distilleries
- Allowing craft brewers to self-distribute their own products;
- Allowing craft brewers to sell growlers;
- Repealing distance requirements of breweries from churches and schools;
- Extending hours of operation for alcohol licenses to 2 a.m. on Sunday through Thursday and 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday;
- Reducing the food to alcohol ratios for alcohol licensees to allow for more flexibility;
- Clarifying rules to allow craft breweries and distilleries in the County’s urban and light industrial areas; and
- Allowing craft brewers to sell more beer on-premise and allowing farm brewers to self-distribute.
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