The city of Brunswick is considering several changes to its alcohol ordinance that could be meaningful to its future.
Downtowns around the country have been experiencing a renaissance lately, driven largely by dining, live music and performances and shopping. Downtown Brunswick is no different.
As we write this, a brewery is in the works on Newcastle Street and a high-end, Georgia-based distillery is making rum just a few doors down. A Southeast Georgia blueberry wine maker and farm operates a store and tasting room a couple of blocks north as well.
These are the sorts of attractions, combined with an eclectic mix of stores and restaurants, that draw people to downtowns and keep them coming back.
The state legislature recognized this a few years ago and altered its laws so that locales everywhere can play host to new businesses that are now allowed to sell their wares directly to customers. The upcoming Silver Bluff Brewery, for example, will be able to sell pints and flights of its creations to visitors without having to first go through a distributor or work through loopholes by offering free tours that include a souvenir glass and tasting.
The craft spirits and beer have been taking off in recent years. As of 2016, there were 5,234 craft breweries operating in the U.S., compared to 1,596 in 2009, according to CraftBeer.com. Today, they employ more than 129,000 jobs in the U.S.
Craft distilleries, like Richland Rum, employ nearly 20,000 people full-time in the U.S., according to a recent report by Forbes. That’s up by 47 percent from 2017.
The ability for these booming businesses to thrive, however, relies largely on local ordinances. It is wise for the city to take a holistic look at its own rules, rather than piece together a long list of regulations that may be difficult to navigate.
Making it easier for businesses that add life, diversity and a little bit of fun to a downtown district in the midst of a revival is a good idea.
The city is considering creating new licensing and classes for manufacturers and making it easier for businesses or organizations to serve alcohol in squares during events. We hope the commission follows the advice of Mayor Cornell Harvey last week to ensure the new rules are not too restrictive, so as to be business friendly.
Brunswick should not cut itself out of a potentially lucrative industry that only continues to grow.