State grants $700K toward $9M project
By Matthew Reitz
Part of the beer making process will return to the former Miller Brewing Company campus in Volney next year, driven by a $700,000 New York State Regional Economic Development Grant awarded to Sunoco.
Sunoco was awarded the $700,000 grant as part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $1.5 billion Upstate Revitalization Initiative. The REDC grant will be used to help fund a new $9.1 million barley malting facility that officials say will become an integral part of New York’s growing craft beer industry.
“This REDC grant helps make the construction of our malting facility a reality and expands its potential,” said Sunoco Ethanol General Manager Tim Hardy. “We are grateful for this grant, for the unflagging support of our local legislators, and for the central New York economic development team, whose tireless advocacy for economic development in the region is responsible for this and other success stories.”
The malting facility will be constructed adjacent to the Sunoco Ethanol Plant, and will help to further revitalize the former Miller Brewing Company campus that was closed in 1994.
Construction is set to begin in the next 90 days, and will employ 150 to 200 contractors. Sunoco expects the facility to be up and running by fall 2016, and will create five to eight permanent full-time positions by the time the malting facility is fully operational in 2017.
Company officials said engineering for the project is already underway, and they plan to repurpose an unused, existing warehouse into a truck receiving and loading center, raw grain storage and cleaning components, malting equipment, and malt bagging and storage capacity.
Malting was not previously done at the site under the Miller Brewing Company, so all new equipment will need to be brought in to perform the malting process.
New York’s current malting capacity is unable to meet the growing demand of New York farm and craft breweries, and the new Volney facility expects to purchase malting barley grown on about 3,000 acres in the state, according to company officials.
The facility will be able to produce approximately 2,000 total tons of high-quality malt annually, which would make it the largest malting facility in the eastern United States.
The state Farm Brewery Law was passed in 2012 in an effort to support New York’s breweries and wineries, increase demand for locally grown farm products and expand industry-related economic development and tourism.
The law requires those holding a farm brewery license to purchase 60 percent of their ingredients for beer from suppliers within New York state in 2018, with a 90 percent requirement by 2024. State officials expect the measure to lead to increased demand for locally grown farm products as well as expanded economic development and tourism in the state.
“Our state’s craft beer industry is flourishing, and it’s projects like this new barley malting facility that capitalize on its potential for even further growth,” State Senator Patty Ritchie, R-Oswegatchie, who co-authored the 2012 Farm Brewery Law in an effort to stimulate growth of the state’s brewing economy, said. “I’m pleased funds were awarded to make this project possible, and look forward to it creating much-needed jobs here in central New York and boosting the farming industry that is so important to our region.”
Sunoco Communications Manager Jeff Shields said the law encourages the company and brewers to use as much state-grown barley as possible, but the company was still working on sourcing some of the barley that will be processed at the facility.
“You can’t just make beer out of barley, you need malted barley,” Shields said, adding that nobody else has the ability to process barley on the same scale as the Volney facility.
Assemblyman Will Barclay said Sunoco has demonstrated its commitment to the community by repeatedly investing in its facility, and this $9 million project shows that the Farm Brewery Law is having an impact on the local economy.
“We have seen the work Sunoco Ethanol has done with the plant, and I am confident they will create a production facility that will grow the state’s brewing industries and our local community while expanding their own business and creating jobs,” Barclay said.