Brewing Up Business: National economist states Elizabethton could see boost with breweries

Published 5:00 pm Tuesday, January 2, 2018

A recent decision made by City Council could soon see revenue spark in Elizabethton while bringing additional foot traffic through downtown.
City officials voted in December to amend ordinances on the books to allow potential breweries or microbreweries to set up downtown, be in alignment with requirement for liquor store requirements and operate under the land-use regulation currently enforced by the city.
The amendments were brought before City Council following the interest of resident James Kerr, who was looking at bringing a brewery to the city.
Now with amendments in place, the city could see a brewery as soon as this year, which could mean more revenue according to one national economist.
Bart Watson, Ph.D., is the chief economist for the Brewers Association, a national 501(c)(6) not-for-profit trade association made up of over 4,100 U.S. brewery members, 46,000 members of the American Homebrewers Association and other members involved with allied trade, beer wholesalers, retailers, individuals and other associate members.
According to information provided by Brewers Association, the brewing industry has provided more than 456,000 full-time equivalent jobs, with more than 128,000 jobs directly at breweries and brewpubs, including serving staff at brewpubs.
“There are many benefits that come with a brewery coming to an area,” Watson told the Elizabethton Star Tuesday. “It brings an additional business to a community, which equals more jobs and causes a ripple effect by partnering with other businesses. There’s also the ability to bring in outside money and assist with redevelopment of a stretch where it could be located.”
As focus continues within the city to revitalize downtown, Watson noted that other areas have taken notice of the ability breweries have to bring in foot traffic.
“Three hundred breweries are located on the main street of cities,” Watson said. “That’s why we see an impact with breweries. It brings in the additional foot traffic and that opens the eyes of other businesses that may want to relocate to that area.”
Having a brewery available also means extra tourism dollars, according to Watson.
According to the 2016 economic impact report provided by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, Carter County ranked 40th out of 95 counties in the state by generating $37.14 million in tourism expenditures, 210 jobs and combining for $4.70 million in revenue ($2.38 million in local tax revenue and $2.32 in state tax revenue).
Brewers Association works alongside the Nielsen, a global ratings organization, and statistics provided indicate that individuals will roughly drive two hours and spend time visiting a brewery, which equals revenue.
“People come in for a drink, and that goes back to the foot traffic,” Watson said. “But that’s people coming in to visit, which equals money for people looking to stay in the area, grab a bite to eat … we’ve noticed Tennessee see a spike in brewery growth.”
With economic benefits noted by City of Johnson City, Watson added that the recent economic impact numbers by Brewers Association, which date back to 2016, indicated Tennessee is one of the fast-growing brewery states with a reported $1.1 billion impact for the state.
One concern that typically lingers with the discussion of breweries is the potential of crime spikes due to individuals being intoxicated. Watson noted an upcoming report being released from a California professor that shows breweries typically see a low-crime spike compared to actual bars that typically are visiting for a specific beer, more so than to “drink just to drink.”
Individuals can visit to learn about the economic impact of breweries. Individuals can also visit to learn more about specific craft beers across the state.

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