MADRAS, Ore. - (Update: Comments from Madras officials, residents, Redmond brewer)
Madras wants to bring a brewery to town, and while many welcome such an arrival, there are some who wonder if a town of fewer than 7,000 people can sustain a brewpub.
City officials, including Community Development Director Nicholas Snead, said Wednesday they believe it would be sustainable and welcomed with open arms by the city's residents.
"What we want to see is someone that's going to operate a family-friendly brewery and brew pub," Snead said. "We want to make sure that whoever is operating it has experience, and has the capital behind it. We want to make sure we're making a reasonable and sustainable public investment,"
The city of Madras said Monday it is actively recruiting a brewery to the city's urban renewal district, located in the downtown core around U.S. Highway 97, and recently released marketing materials to help present the opportunity to prospects.
Through the Madras Redevelopment Commission, the city is offering a package of incentives and assistance to help Madras' first craft brewer start a brewery or brew pub, and become a vital member of the community, the city said in a news release.
Brewer Paul Bergeman, the co-owner of Wild Ride Brew in Redmond, said he thinks a brewery in Madras would do well.
"I think that a town like Madras could definitely hold a brewery," he said. "I think the community would really enjoy a spot where they could come to something like what we have here, at Wild Ride, where they could get together have a couple pints and enjoy each other."
Others, including Garry Boyd, the owner of Great Earth Natural Foods in Madras, said they hope the plan works -- and say quality is crucial.
"If the city's got a great incentive package, and if they're going to help with payback, I'm hoping we see a payback on the money we're spending," Boyd said.
But he added, "They're going to have to have a great product, you can't come in with a mediocre product."
The owner of OK Barbershop, Nick Bowlby, said he thinks it's a great idea.
"It'd be good -- the more beer the better," Bowlby said. "They love to beer hop and go to different pubs and bars, yeah the more the better, so yeah I think it'd be a great thing for Madras, I hope it comes," said Bowlby.
The incentive package and overall business opportunity is presented online at www.brewitmadras.com and on the city's website at www.ci.madras.or.us. A PDF brochure is also available and can be requested by contacting city of Madras community development director Nick Snead.
MRC is offering aid to a developer, owner, or operator as an incentive to open a brewery or brew pub in Madras. Per the recruitment materials, such assistance from MRC may be used in any one of the forms listed below, provided the location chosen is inside the Madras URD. Assistance is subject to approval by MRC.
Examples of Assistance Include:
Site Selection within URD
Site Development Costs
Building Renovation Costs
Technical Assistance with Wastewater Disposal Design
Technical Assistance with Environmental Efforts
Jefferson County Small Business Start-up Loan Opportunity
Snead said the city identified three key groups to target their recruitment message.
"Whether you're an established brewer looking to expand, a business guru looking for the next investment, or the passion-project type who's driven by the love of beer, good food and community, we want to talk to you," Snead said.
As outlined in the materials, Madras hosted 100,000+ visitors during the 2017 total solar eclipse in August and drew crowds from nearby and across the world.
"Now is the perfect time, on the heels of our successful eclipse event, to recruit a brewery to our growing and energized community," Snead said. "We were a world's stage, and people got to see just how great of a community we have here in Madras."
The city conducted a community survey as part of its urban renewal plan in 2015, and recruiting a brewery was named one of the community's highest priority projects.
Madras Mayor Royce Embanks said, "When hundreds of community members provided input on our City's Urban Renewal Action Plan and said that recruiting a brewery is a top priority, it was clear--Madras is ready for a brewery or brew pub to call its own. The vision is for a vibrant community gathering place and an inviting destination for friends, family, and tourists."
Both Snead and Mayor Embanks say that Madras and the surrounding area is a "brewer's dream" given the resources nearby. "Beer is mostly water, and we have the best water around," said Snead, referring to nearby Opal Springs featuring ultra-pure water that is naturally filtered by thick layers of volcanic basalt.
Mecca Grade, an estate malthouse located in Madras, offers the opportunity for farm-to-tap experiences with locally grown and malted grain; and with Madras' vast agricultural industry, locally grown and raised food makes the possibility of farm-to-table options viable for a pub restaurant.
"Madras offers such a unique opportunity for a brewer or brew pub because we're one of the few towns that can supply a completely local brewery, from amazing water and locally grown and malted grain, to local produce, beef, pork, and dairy," Mecca Grade owner Seth Klann said. "It could be a celebration of our whole community, which is pretty cool."
Madras' location in Central Oregon (a center of craft beer culture and prime tourist destination), MRC's incentive package and the prospect of being Madras' first brewery or brew pub round-out the unique benefits of starting a brewery in Madras, according to the recruitment materials.
"The brewery project in Madras is a one-of-a-kind opportunity," said Central Oregonian and brewery founder/consultant Pratt Rather. "Madras is an underserved brewery or brew pub market, and the city's incentive package alone is a game-changer for anyone thinking about doing this."
Additionally, the marketing materials highlight the diverse cultural mix and deep history in Madras, offer an overview of several main attractions in the area including City services and outdoor recreation sites, and list tourism and consumer demand information, as well as feature Oregon beer industry stats.
Those interested in talking to the City of Madras about starting a brewery, or to simply learn more may contact Nick Snead, firstname.lastname@example.org.