Olde Mecklenburg Brewery says $5.7M investment supports future growth

The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery has its eye on the future with plans to invest $5.7 million into its operations this year.
Those plans include additional $4.4 million to renovate a 40,000-square-foot building for office, storage and adding 80 parking spots. Moving those operations from the main brewery will allow room to expand the taproom, says founder John Marrino.
Another $1.3 million will be used to expand fermentation tank space, make a patio outside the brewhouse usable year round and add a glass-washing room to the beer hut in the biergarten.
“No matter what, we’ve got a lot of competition in town. We have to make sure they have the best experience when they come to the brewery,” Marrino says.

The catch?

Marrino continues to invest in OMB, but without changes to North Carolina’s self-distribution cap, he says the Charlotte brewery will be forced to stop growing. That law requires breweries to sign with an outside distributor after they produce 25,000 barrels in a year.

Marrino has been steadfast in his commitment to cap growth just under that threshold — and hold it there until the law is changed.

“We’re certainly not going to go over,” he says.

Last year, the brewery produced approximately 19,000 barrels of beer. It will bump up against the distribution cap of 24,999 this year, he adds.

“There’s no reason for me to take my foot off the accelerator just yet,” Marrino says.“We firmly believe we’re going to change this law.”

OMB and NoDa Brewing Co. are behind Craft Freedom, a coalition of brewers and businesses, in support of changing that law. They’ve also hired a lobbyist to argue their case with legislators.

Marrino's overall investment into Olde Meck and its facilities will top $17 million with these latest projects.

OMB now employs 130 — not counting spin-off jobs created by hiring contractors and utilizing other support services.

That also means a stop to ongoing capital investments, necessary to keep up with future growth. Change to that law must take place by the second quarter of next year to avoid an economic hit.

“Next year, all growth will be shut down and that’s not good for the state of North Carolina,” Marrino says.

Craft breweries look to fill a niche that was previously served by outside manufacturers. Even with the growth of craft beer locally, 96% of beer is still produced outside of the state.
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