The official announcement today that Stone Brewing Co. has selected Richmond for the location of its East Coast production facility is a significant economic development victory for the City and the region. Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced the deal this afternoon at the Governor’s Mansion. Stone’s Richmond plant will be located in the Fulton section of the city’s East End and is expected to be a catalyst for redevelopment and additional investment in the area.
Richmond successfully beat out Columbus, OH and Norfolk, VA for the Stone facility. As part of the deal, the Commonwealth has offered Stone about $5 million in economic development incentives, including money from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund. The production facility represents a $47 million investment from Stone and could create 100 jobs during the first phase of developments. Additional jobs and investment is expected as the facility grows. Stone could produce over 120,000 barrels of beer per year at its Richmond site and that production number could expand to almost 500,000 barrels. The news of Stone opening a facility in Richmond comes on the heels of the Richmond Planning Commission approving zoning changes to allow the brewery to operate on its preferred site. Plans call for Stone to start development next month and open the first phase of the facility in early 2016.
In addition to the economic development implications, there is a marketing angle here as well. Richmond has, in recent years, successfully positioned itself as a creative city with a strong food and craft beer scene. As part of its economic development efforts in courting Stone, the city connected the brewer to local craft breweries and helped to create a connection between Stone and existing companies. By doing so, the city had a powerful group of advocates that Stone could relate to. As one of the largest craft breweries in the world and a pioneer in craft beer, Stone seemed like a natural fit for Richmond especially given the city’s thriving craft brewery scene. This high profile announcement will certainly help boost the city’s and the Commonwealth’s future economic development efforts.