Breweries Good For Local Economies

It’s relatively easy to recognize a community that’s flourishing. In many ways, the area radiates an energy that makes people feel good. That often has a lot to do with what’s happening there.

While it’s not usually the first thing that comes to mind for most people, some researchers say that one of the most reliable ways to tell whether or not a community is doing well is whether or not it has at least one craft brewery. These types of establishments feature a special kind of entrepreneur. They are passionate, innovative and draw a lot of primarily young, or young at heart, customers. Those patrons are the type of folks who bring exciting fresh new ideas and energy to a community, often creating high levels of civic engagement and driving more people to work harder to make their community better. Consequently, craft breweries, distilleries, and wineries are located in many of the best areas, especially in places undergoing revitalization.

In this respect, many communities in Chautauqua County are on the cutting edge. Craft breweries, distilleries, and wineries abound here. This is partly because few other counties are home to as many of the raw ingredients needed for success in distilling. Home to endless vineyards and fertile farmland, Chautauqua County is the perfect location for these types of enterprises.

Along with all the well-known fine wineries sprinkled throughout the county, its home to the Southern Tier Brewing Company, Big Inlet Brewing, Five & 20 Spirits & Brewing, Grace & Abe’s in Westfield and soon to a recently approved brewery at the Clarion in Dunkirk. The Growers Cooperative Grape Juice Co. is also one of the county’s biggest draws, and there is always a lot of exciting things happening at the Lake Erie Grape Discovery Center.

Some local breweries, distilleries, and wineries created outdoor spaces and sponsored outdoor events during the pandemic to make their customers feel safer, but they all draw fans from near and far year-round by featuring unique and exciting experiences for their patrons. Many offer tastings, allowing locals and tourists to sample their products before purchasing. Some people choose to buy locally made beverages to consume on site while others take them to enjoy at home or give as gifts.

These establishments inject life into our communities. Some people go for a change of pace. However, many wineries, breweries, and distilleries become community hubs where people gather regularly, making new acquaintances and enjoying the company of good friends. They provide a warm, welcoming social experience and make people want to spend more time there. Besides being popular gathering places, they also become sources of local pride and identity.

Community economic development stakeholders like the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation’s Local Economic Development committee embrace wineries, breweries, and distilleries as the economic development engines they are. Some communities across the country have been reborn thanks to innovative new breweries, distilleries, and wineries. These businesses drive tourism and draw people to want to move here, strengthening our local economy. They spur jobs in the leisure industry, hospitality, and agriculture, especially in rural areas like those found in Chautauqua County, encouraging other businesses to open nearby because they draw so many people from near and far.

The brightest future for Chautauqua County’s economy lies in enticing the people living here to stay while also drawing more young people to settle here. What better way than through exciting venues like these?

Cheers to that!

Patty Hammond is Economic Development Coordinator at the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation. The Local Economic Development (LED) Initiative is a standing committee of the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation (NCCF). Send comments or suggestions to Patty Hammond at phammond@nccfoundation.org


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