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The bootlegging barons of the prohibition era must be smiling in their graves.
The state government last week awarded $800,000 to the Brooklyn Brewery to jump-start their $6.5 million expansion in Williamsburg.
The company, along with its signature Brooklyn brands of ale, lager and beer, is converting 13,500 square feet of vacant distribution space into a beer fermentation facility, and increasing brewing capacity from 8,000 to 50,000 barrels per year.
The plant is located at 79 North 11th Street.
The grant came from a competitive process, yielding a total first-round $7.8 million that will eventually total $35 million to revitalize the downstate area, and grow the job and tax base.
Municipalities, non-profits and businesses receiving the money also had to provide an ecological or green compnonent in their application.
“We are grateful to Governor Paterson and Empire State Development for this grant from the Downstate Revitalization Fund,” said Brooklyn Brewery Founder and President Steve Hindy. “Support like this is vital to growing manufacturing jobs in New York City. These funds will enable us to complete a six-fold capacity expansion, adding 15 full-time jobs with benefits, and further expanding the Brewery’s green initiatives.”
Hindy said the first phase of the expansion involves purchasing a new brew house from Germany, along with 12 new fomenters and a new grain handling system.
The state funding will enable the brewery to do a new grain handling system in a way to make it very easy for a company that produces animal feed to pick up the spent grain in bulk, he said.
“We’re also doing solar panels on the roof to preheat our water for brewing,” said Hindy. “Brewing lends itself to a lot of green technologies, but it’s expensive to get going.”
The money comes as the brewery has been looking to expand, and at one point, even considered moving out of the borough.
“For five years we were looking for more space, but the downturn in the economy had a silver lining for us as landlords began to view us as a pretty good long-term tenant,” said Hindy.
The Brooklyn Beer brand continues to grow, and is currently distributed in 24 states and the District of Columbia. Additionally, 10 percent of the business is in exporting with the largest amount being shipped to Sweden, said Hindy.
In announcing the allocation, Paterson said it is crucial that the state utilize its assets to foster sustainable growth and create jobs,
“The Downstate Revitalization Fund focuses on the interests of the small business community that is at the heart of our economy. The road to fiscal recovery begins by building on their successes and by keeping our entrepreneurs, workers and families in New York,” he said.
Also getting a grant through the fund was the The Brooklyn Navy Yard, which received $1 million to develop a Green Manufacturing Center. Ultimately, the facility is expected to add 300 full-time jobs.
“Support from Governor Paterson and ESD will not only allow the Navy Yard to continue to grow and meet the enormous demand for light industrial space, but also leverage significant private sector investments,” said Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation Chairman Alan H. Fishman.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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