RCBI receives $79,270 ARC grant to expand craft beverage industry

RIPLEY — The Robert C. Byrd Institute at Marshall University has been awarded a $79,270 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission to study the economic impact of the emerging craft beverage industry in central and western West Virginia and develop a strategy for expansion.

The Craft Beer and Spirit Trail project will focus on Cabell, Jackson, Kanawha, Putnam and Roane counties.

The initiative will inventory existing assets, and propose new business and employment opportunities to guide economic development leaders in establishing a cohesive regional program for the craft beverage industry.

“We are very excited about this project as it is another example of Marshall University’s expertise in utilizing university resources to leverage, support and expand West Virginia industries,” said Jerry Gilbert, president of Marshall University. “Specifically, Marshall’s RCBI will leverage its expertise in advanced manufacturing, supply chain development and agricultural innovations to help support and grow the craft beverage industry.”

Charlotte Weber, RCBI director and CEO, said the initiative is backed by a committed group of proactive organizations intent on working together to diversify the state’s economy by expanding entrepreneurship, manufacturing and tourism.

In addition to RCBI, key players include the Charleston Area Alliance, Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce, West Virginia Department of Tourism, Putnam County Economic Development Authority, Huntington Area Development Council, Putnam County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, Cabell-Huntington Convention and Visitors Bureau, Jackson County Economic Development Authority and the Roane County Economic Development Authority.

Brilliant Stream, a website focused on the state’s craft brewers, reports that the industry is the fastest growing manufacturing sector in the state. At least 48 beer and spirits operations are in West Virginia, more than double the number in 2014.

According to Brewers Association, a national trade group, in 2017 the craft brewing industry had an economic impact in West Virginia of more than $309 million.

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