Breweries Inject Stimulus into Neighborhoods

An artist rendition of a redesigned Allentown Waterfront; now with 100% more Ruckus BrewingAn artist rendition of a redesigned Allentown Waterfront; now with 100% more Ruckus Brewing

You hear an awful lot about main street from politicians, a catch-all term that differentiates smaller local businesses from conglomerates. In their rhetoric, it is clear that whatever main street they are referring to is healthy and vibrant, as is the bucolic small town this main street inhabits. Most of us can agree that not all small towns have economic equanimity, and that a good indicator of a towns vibrancy is often the stores on both main street and off the beaten path into the neighborhoods.

Beer may not be the first choice to promote a healthy image of a neighborhood, but breweries can be and often are a difference maker. Many breweries are choosing to develop within small towns in Pennsylvania and often they choose areas that other businesses stay away from. By agreeing to work with and inject money into an area, breweries can be a community leader that makes a positive difference. Take Ruckus Brewing, a New York based outfit that originally contracted its recipes out to other brewers. Now it has finalized an agreement to purchase the defunct Neuweiler Brewery located in Allentown for 1.7 million dollars.

Ruckus has grand plans. Its beers have seen growing demand in the area, including Hoptimus Prime, a double IPA. Ruckus hopes to remake Neuweiler into a 30 million dollar ordeal. Helping both Ruckus and the city is that the building is located along Allentown’s Riverfront and within the Neighborhood Improvement Zone, an area designated to receive certain tax breaks. By applying for the NIZ funds, Ruckus could get defray up to 2/3 of the initial cost.

By taking over abandoned properties, breweries can take advantage of stimulus money while towns finally get to add vacant buildings that might otherwise attract ne’r do wells to the tax roles. We have recently seen this effect locally, with Columbia Kettle Works moving into an old United Telephone building in Columbia, and the recent Spring House decision to build a brewery in Lancaster City’s southwest neighborhood. Columbia has had recently documented money woes, and the Kettle Works one of the bigger businesses to open there recently. Lancaster has had its own issues with the Penn Square Partnership, and a larger brewery located within city limits could mean jobs and tax revenue, two items no town will turn down.

There are examples of breweries making a difference all over Pennsylvania, and all over the country. With craft beer culture being a huge victory for the locavore movement and a luxury people are willing to spend money on, it means businesses that small towns can bank on.

Source: Lehigh Valley Live