Buffalo, NY (WBEN) - Could beer be Western New York's next big industry?
Senator Charles Schumer thinks so.
Schumer was in Buffalo on Tuesday to push for a new bill that would cut taxes for small brewers across the country. Currently, brewers pay a $7 excise tax for the first 60,000 barrels they brew per year. Under the Small BREW (Brewer Reinvestment and Expanding Workforce) Act, that rate is slashed to $3.50 per barrel, resulting in potential savings of $210,000 per year for that brewery. The bill also cuts the tax by $2 on the next 1,940,000 barrels produced, resulting in potential savings of $3,880,000 each year.
"I'm always looking for ways we can bring jobs to upstate New York," Schumer said. "It so happens that our brewing, brewpub, and craft brewery industry is one of the fastest growing industries in all of upstate New York."
Schumer noted that this new trend is especially prevalent in Western New York, where many new craft brewers are opening up breweries, and some existing ones are looking to expand in to larger buildings.
Schumer says the hope is that owners of small breweries will put the money saved back in to their businesses and expand operations, while simultaneously allowing new craft brewers to start their own businesses. The end result of the two would create the beer equivalent to the wine trails in the Finger Lakes. "In Oregon, in Colorado, they have created a big tourist industry of people who go to the various brewpubs, and that's beginning to happen in New York. When you get a concentration, we have a greater concentration of new brewpubs in Western New York than anywhere else, it helps the tourists come."
“Small breweries throughout Buffalo, like Pearl Street Grill and Brewery, not only brew great beer, they also pour jobs into the community,” Schumer said. “By cutting taxes for these small businesses, we can help breweries buy new equipment and hire more people to boost business, and truly allow them capitalize on the growing craft beer culture in Western New York.
Breweries are the crown jewels of so many of our communities, and many of them bring an added benefit by renovating charming old buildings in downtowns, just like Big Ditch Brewing is doing on Ellicott Street. Putting more money back into these businesses will be good for economic development, good for jobs, and good for Upstate New York.”
The approximately 2,400 small and independent breweries across the country combine to generate more than $3 billion in wages and benefits, and pay more than $2.3 billion in taxes annually. In New York, the beer industry directly supports approximately 8,000 jobs through brewing and distribution, and nearly 60,000 jobs overall when retail sales are factored in.