Comptroller’s Visit Highlights State’s Investment In Southern Tier Brewery

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli visited Southern Tier Brewery on Friday to discuss how the In-State Private Equity Program is assisting the business. Specifically, $7.6 million was invested in Artisanal Brewing Ventures, the holding company for Southern Tier Brewery, through the New York State Common Retirement. P-J photo by Jimmy McCarthy

LAKEWOOD — New York’s chief fiscal officer visited Southern Tier Brewery on Friday to discuss how the investment of state pension funds is assisting the local company and economy.

Thomas P. DiNapoli toured Southern Tier Brewery’s Lakewood facility alongside state officials, including state. Sen Cathy Young, R-Olean, to see firsthand the production of craft beverages. DiNapoli said he was impressed to witness the facility and the sophistication of the operation.

DiNapoli oversees the state Common Retirement Fund’s In-State Private Equity Program, which targets investment of pension funds into New York companies. The program invested $7.6 million in Artisanal Brewing Ventures, the holding company for Southern Tier Brewery, through the state Common Retirement Fund. DiNapoli said the success seen from Southern Tier Brewery is what the comptroller’s office hopes for when money gets invested into enterprises in the state.

The state pension fund partners with private equity managers who seek to invest in New York-based companies that need capital for growth or to refinance ownership. The program is designed to provide investment returns consistent with the risk of private equity while also expanding the availability of capital for New York businesses.

“Through our partnership, we’ve invested in Southern Tier Brewery and it’s very clear that (they’ve) put the money to good use,” DiNapoli said.

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and state Sen. Cathy Young tour Southern Tier Brewery on Friday. Matt Dunn, director of brewing and quality, provided the tour of the facility.

The state program was underway in 2007 when DiNapoli entered as comptroller. He said the program was being used in modest fashion, and colleagues in Albany began to ask if there was a better way to invest money in the state. DiNapoli said making money for the pension fund is the first goal, and it has. But through investments in local companies, DiNapoli said it benefits the pension fund and helps entrepreneurs obtain the capital they need to start a business or relocate.

“We doubled our efforts to dedicate money through this program, and it’s really part of the double bottom line strategy on investment where we make money for the fund and do good things by helping the economy,” he said.

Phin DeMink founded Southern Tier Brewery in 2003 with his wife, Sara, and father-in-law, Skip. The company started with three employees and grew to 150. In 2014, they created a new company in Artisanal Brewing Ventures, which DeMink said was the first step to evolve the company. DeMink said capital from the state program assisted them in the acquisition of Victory Brewing Company out of Pennsylvania in 2016.

“That really helped us become more competitive and it took us from where we were ranked 33rd in the marketplace for craft breweries to 13,” he said. “Part of that investment really helped us grow our business and develop a new platform and ensure the longevity of our business.”

See tomorrow’s edition of The Post-Journal for complete coverage.