Hoist a Mug to Win-Win-Win Economic Development

Photo credit: Virginia Business

It may be a small step forward — perhaps I should say, a “micro” step forward — but Governor Bob McDonnell’s signing yesterday of two laws to stimulate small beer breweries in Virginia is exactly the kind of economic development initiative the state needs.

One law will permit manufacturers to lease space in their brew houses to micro brewers, while the other will allow retail sales of beer and sampling on the premises of Virginia breweries.

Said McDonnell in a press release: “This legislation positions Virginia’s craft brewers to grow and create more jobs in the Commonwealth. From Arlington to Abingdon, entrepreneurial Virginians are innovating and brewing critically acclaimed beers. The legislation signed today will make it easier for our breweries to serve as destinations for potential customers and allow some of our talented small-scale brewers to lease space from established brewers and overcome some of the significant start-up costs.”

Added Eric McKay, co-founder of Hardywood Park Brewery: “Fueled by a passion for quality, innovation and unique flavors, a focus on local ingredients, a commitment to community philanthropy and a dedication to environmental sustainability, Virginia’s craft brewers are significantly empowered through Governor McDonnell’s unprecedented support. … We commend Governor McDonnell for identifying this opportunity for economic growth through greater liberties to productive and responsible manufacturers.”

By themselves, these measures will hardly set the Virginia economy afire. There are only 44 licensed breweries in the state, and even if the number doubles, the resulting job creation would barely dent unemployment numbers. However, I can’t see a downside. Consider:

  • The legislation requires no expenditure of state funds.
  • The measures expand consumer choice available to Virginians.
  • The two bills expand the sphere of personal and economic liberty rather than restrict it.

Frankly, it’s hard to imagine why legislation was needed in the first place. But state law pertaining to the distribution of alcohol is riddled with crazy provisions serving one special interest or another. Kudos to McDonnell and the legislators who submitted the bills: Sen. Jeffrey L. McWaters, R-Virginia Beach, and Jennifer L. McClellan, D-Richmond.

Now, let’s see what other idiocies need correcting!


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