Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Raising a cool one

On a sultry afternoon perfect for quaffing a cool beer, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliff announced that Richmond's Hardywood Park Craft Brewery will open a large facility in West Creek. The announcement was made at the Virginia Farm Bureau headquarters.

State financial incentives tied to a promise by Hardywood to use a certain amount of Virginia agriculture products in the manufacture of its brews helped seal the deal. (Visit hardywood.com for details and sketches of the brewery complex)

Secrecy shrouded the discussions at the state and local level. Goochland supervisors met in closed session several times at their monthly meetings this spring to discuss an unnamed economic development project . It was code named "project sheep" in emails about the final press release.

Hardywood will locate its new brewery complex on two parcels of land, about 35 acres, in West Creek adjacent to Farm Bureau head quarters on West Creek Parkway. The site will be used to brew, package, and distribute Hardywood's award winning craft beers. It will also have a tap room, extensive gardens, and an outdoor amphitheater. Initially, 56 new local jobs will be created.

"The concept is beautiful--very stunning," said Susan Lascolette, District 1, chair of the Goochland Board of Supervisors.

Hardywood pledged to use a certain amount of Virginia produced ingredients to obtain the state funding. This could be a boon to Goochland farmers who might decide to grow crops like hops and barley instead of the usual corn, wheat, and soybeans. No mention was made of the residue from the brewing process, but perhaps that could be spread on local fields instead of sewage and industrial sludge. That would fall right into the sustainable and local focus of Hardywood's philosophy.

The new brewery complex, expected to be in operation in about 18 months, according to Lascolette, will pay ad valorem taxes, connection, and usage fees to the Tuckahoe Creek Service District. It will also use lots of water, which should help with the stale water issue.

Tax bills will be computed using the current assessed valuation. Personal property and machine and tools taxes will be rebated 100 percent for years one to four and 50 percent for the greater of either ten years, or until the amount of "forgiven" taxes reaches $1 million. Given the $28 million expected to be invested in the complex, and Hardywood's success, it will be paying full taxes sooner rather than later.

The Hardywood complex is the latest game changer for Goochland County. Lascolette observed that “Hardywood’s vision for its new brewing campus and distribution facility are perfectly aligned with Goochland’s commitment to attract and retain the best people and businesses while preserving our rural character.”


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