A third San Diego beer company has announced plans to open a large production brewery in the state of Virginia. Ballast Point Brewing has agreed to buy a 260,000-square-foot property and invest close to $48 million to build a facility in Botetourt County, 130 miles due west of Richmond in the Roanoke Valley, near the West Virginia border.
According to a press release issued by Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe, the governor himself lobbied Ballast Point to make the move, when he "met with company officials at their headquarters in San Diego during his September 2015 West Coast marketing mission." A statement attributed to McAuliffe added, "Winning this significant project was a top priority."
The press release also noted that "Virginia successfully competed against several eastern states for the project," though Ballast Point has declined to say which other cities or states were considered.
Virginia has become a popular destination for large San Diego beer companies. Stone Brewing plans to open in Richmond this summer, while Green Flash plans to launch in Virginia Beach.
While the press release touts "Virginia’s reputation as a leader in the nation’s burgeoning craft beer industry" as a reason for this, the primary lure is geography. Virginia is within a day's drive of Chicago, New England and gulf states, meaning the high cost of refrigerated shipping to the east coast will be drastically reduced, along with shipping times. "Cheaper distribution (really, cheaper shipping) is a byproduct of our main goal, which is ensuring quality," says a Ballast Point representative, "While we ship all of our beer from San Diego in refrigerated trucks, it still has to travel for several days all the way across the country. We have seen a lot of growth on the East Coast, and an East Coast operation will help ensure that we can continue to supply those markets with the freshest, best quality beer."
Financial incentives also have played a role, including $2.4 million in grant money from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund, a Virginia state discretionary fund earmarked for job creation. According to a separate press release issued by development organization Roanoke Regional Partnership, the Ballast Point brewery will create 178 jobs, and employee training resources will be provided by another fund, Virginia Jobs Investment Program.
Additionally, "[Botentourt] county will provide $1,402,177 in tax incentives along with performance grants anticipated at $650,000, a potential AFID grant of $250,000, and permit fee waivers." AFID is Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund administered by the Governor's discretion. The Partnership estimates the Ballast Point's annual economic impact will exceed $375 million and lead to the creation of 540 secondary jobs."
No timetable was given on production of the new brewery.