After plenty of initial fanfare over its entrance into Richmond, Stone Brewing Co. is now facing some skepticism over the upcoming construction of its East End brewing facility and agreement with the city.
Critics question the city’s plans to issue more than $30 million in bonds to finance the development of the brewery and restaurant facility for Stone. Local business owners, particularly other brewers and restaurateurs, wonder if the city is giving a massive new competitor an unfair advantage in the name ofeconomic development.
Greg Koch has plenty to say to those critics.
As Stone’s CEO and co-founder, Koch (pronounced “cook”) defends the deal as good for all parties involved. And he points out that Stone plans to pump tens of millions of its own money into a project that promises 288 jobs and new life to a long-dormant section of the city.
BizSense caught up with Koch, 50, just before the end of the year to talk about Richmond’s response to the brewery, what is was like to have cities bending over backwards to lure his company, his thoughts on craft beer, and the origin of the brewery’s gargoyles.
RBS: What’s your response to critics who say the city is bankrolling the brewery and restaurant project and giving Stone an unfair advantage? Or is this just kind of what cities have to do nowadays to attract high-profile businesses?
GK: One thing that a lot of critics have very clearly said is, “I don’t understand the details of this deal but I’m going to comment anyways.” The city is not bankrolling this project. That’s just an odd way to describe it when you look at it. What the city is doing is they are investing in their own property. They are creating something that is fit for a tenant – us – to come and occupy and pay them rent on.
The complete Q & A can be read here, on Richmond BizSense.com.