Richmond Kicks In More than $30 Million in Grants and Bonds to Land Stone

The city of Richmond, VA is throwing in more than $30 million in grants and bonds to help Stone Brewing build out an east coast facility that could be operational as early as late next year.

As reported by Richmond Bizsense, the Richmond mayor’s office will issue $23 million in bonds to fund development of the project and kick in another $8 million in bonds for the brewery’s restaurant and beer garden. Additionally, the city plans to support the project with $2 million in grant money from taxes generated by the new facility.

“We are working very hard on the economic development front to expand the city’s tax base, increase economic opportunity, and to provide opportunities for jobs and growth,” said Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones of his city’s successful campaign.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who in September declared, “We’ve got to get [Stone] here in Virginia,” is opening up the state’s coffers as well. The state will offer up $5 million from its Governor’s Opportunity Fund and $250,000 more from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund.

Stone’s plans call for a 200,000 sq. ft. production brewery — equipped with a 250-barrel brewhouse and a distribution center — as well as a packaging hall, retail store, and restaurant to be built out of an existing building on the 12-acre plot of land. The Escondido, Calif. brewery plans to invest $74 million into the project. It believes the project will create at least 288 jobs in the process, and generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue over time.

Steve Wagner, president and co-founder of the country’s 10th-largest craft brewery, told Brewbound that while such hefty investments from the state and city were “an important piece to the puzzle,” they weren’t the “deciding factor” in its months-long search for a location to build an east coast facility.

“Those were all pretty close,” Wagner said of the grants and bonds offered up by the two other finalist cities in play for the brewery, which included nearby Norfolk and Columbus, Ohio. Final decisions were made by “figuring out different cost structures of getting raw materials and packaging materials to the site from places we’ll be purchasing from, cost savings from shipping beer to our larger markets in the east, getting into that kind of granular detail and calculating it.”

“Then it’s the gut feeling type of thing too,” he added. “[Richmond] just gave us a great vision of how we can create a really cool Stone experience. The water supply, waste water capacity, building size that we’ll be able to do there, the ability to fast-track it because we need more capacity quickly, they don’t have to change laws to accommodate our restaurant.”

The company, according to Richmond Bizsense, will have a 25-year lease to start and pay rent annually, enough to cover the city’s debt. Stone plans to brew more than 120,000 barrels in its first year, the article added, immediately making it the largest craft brewery in the state.

Having signed an official letter of intent last week, the brewery must now come to performance and lease agreements and work through “the fine legal details” to get the project officially under way, Wagner said.