First reported by GSA Business, Stone, the country’s 10th largest craft brewery’s decision to look elsewhere was due to “logistical and geographic” reasons.
Brook Bristow, a lawyer with Bradford Neal Martin & Associates who provides general counsel to the South Carolina Brewers Association, told Brewbound he was unhappy with Stone’s decision, but ultimately proud of the legislative changes the state’s brewers were able to help enact during the vying process.
“We’re disappointed about Stone, but we’re not disappointed about the positive impact the new laws are having here,” he said. “Next time it happens, South Carolina’s going to be ready right from the get-go. We’re not going to be playing catch up with other states.”
The state’s so-called “Stone Bill,” which was signed into law on June 2, made it legal for brewpubs to apply for brewery licenses, enabling them to serve food while producing an unlimited amount of beer. Stone’s planned World Bistro & Beer Garden Restaurant would have been illegal in South Carolina prior to Gov. Nikki Haley’s signing of the bill.
“It wasn’t written just for Stone,” added Bristow of the bill that was expected to lure the Escondido, Calif.-based brewery to South Carolina. “It was written for people already here, people thinking of opening, or people on the West Coast thinking of coming. It was really kind of a multi-faceted law change.”
With South Carolina out of the mix, Stone has narrowed its focus for its new facility, according to GSA Business. The new brewery, which is expected to cost upwards of $30 million and will create 400 jobs, could be built in Virginia or Ohio, sources said.
Those close to the project have remained tight-lipped, however, about how closely the brewery is looking at Virginia, Ohio, or any other states.
Stone spokeswoman Sabrina LoPiccolo told Brewbound that the brewery “isn’t disclosing which locations we are still considering,” but did forward the following statement:
“We were overwhelmed by the responses received to our request for proposal. We considered a number of great locations in North Carolina and South Carolina, but after careful review and evaluation we narrowed the candidates to locations that we feel better fit our needs and requirements. Stone Brewing Co. would like to express our gratitude for the significant efforts put forth our search, we truly appreciate the time and resources that went towards our project.”
Suzanne Clark, spokeswoman with the Virginia Economic Development Project, could not provide any additional information on any work it may be doing with Stone, per the agency’s policy.
That said, according to PilotOnline.com, “[W]ord in city circles is that Stone really likes the idea of coming to Norfolk [Va.].”
A representative for JobsOhio, the agency that would be working with Stone in the Buckeye State, could not be reached for comment as of press time.
Though it remains unclear where Stone will land on the East Coast, the elimination of both North Carolina and South Carolina from consideration and some legislative issues in other states east of the Mississippi River (including Alabama and Tennessee) that — based on its request for proposals — could potentially prevent the brewery from operating as planned, it would appear that Stone has significantly narrowed its focus.