Grant Could Help Bring New Distillery to Tacoma

A resolution before City Council this week could bring Tacoma one step closer to landing a new distillery with national distribution.

Riverhorse LLC is considering locations in three states (Oregon, Washington, and Virginia) for a new Copper and Kings Distillery. The Washington site would be in Tacoma at 301 East 11th Street, just north of the Murray Morgan Bridge on the east side of the Foss Waterway.

Plans for the distillery include construction of a new 25,000 square foot steel, concrete and recycled timbers building, and purchase machinery and equipment for distillery operation. A second phase of the project would include a 100-seat restaurant and a 100-seat banquet area, with the possibility of serving as a performance venue. The distillery could bring up to 50 jobs and $3 million in investment to Tacoma within five years.

The resolution on this week’s agenda would authorize the submittal of a grant application to the Washington State Community Economic Revitalization Board, forf $150,000 (the maximum the City can receive), to fund infrastructure improvements at the proposed project site, including assistance in cleaning up the derelict industrial site, and construction of updated stormwater facilities.

Funding for improvements would increase Tacoma’s competitive position in attracting the distillery. If the Tacoma site is selected, and the City is awarded the grant, Riverhorse would bear the balance of the project and infrastructure costs, with no City contribution.

There seems to be a lot of energy around the Foss in recent months, and if the City lands this project, we could see even more. The Murray Morgan Bridge is scheduled to reopen soon – would you like to see a distillery just across it one of these days?

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Wow, I hope we land that fish! I don’t know anything about Virginia, but Oregon will likely be serious competition. We do have a few upcoming big openings that will sweeten the pot for choosing Tacoma: The Elks/McMenamins project and the completion of the Morgan bridge. Easy access, built-in interest. McMenamins could feature the hootch made just across the waterway….

Oh the possibilities!

December 18, 2012 at 10:18 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Todd Buckley

I would like to see the city council get behind someone who is local and actually lives in Tacoma and support them in opening a distillery. 

“In the US nearly all subsidies are around big things – big oil, big natural gas, big utilities, big cattle, big farms – it’s so perverse.  Stripping away those things, that conservatives want to do right now, would be a tremendous boost for localisation.  Even when you get to the State level it’s the same thing.  I just finished a study for the Kellogg Foundation where we looked at the three largest economic development programs within 15 US states, so we looked at 45 programs in all.  What we found, counting the dollars in the grants that went to these various economic development programs was that 80% of the programs were giving money to non-local business, that is out of state business attraction or attention.” – Michael Shuman

December 18, 2012 at 10:29 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Aslan Meade

They sure make it sound like this is wonderful, golden opportunity.  Public funds should be used to prepare the way for an out of state giant to come in and save us.  There will be jobs!

Don’t get me wrong.  A Distillery would be a cool and exciting destination and, of course, we want the urban revitalization.  It really does sound fantastic the way it is being described. 

We just need to look a little deeper.  This economic strategy of always trying to land the big fish from somewhere else, rarely works out locally in the end.  I’ve seen it happen time after time after time. 

If there is a proposal available for a locally owned and operated distillery, I say that should be getting serious consideration.  And I’d like to see that story covered with such a glowing review.

December 18, 2012 at 5:59 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Chalky White

Everyone is an economic development expert. When there is a focus on local business, people complain about lack of recruiting new business to the city. When an out of town business wants to open up shop in Tacoma, people complain about lack of attention to local business. How about we celebrate both? What they all need is a sustainable business plan and solid financial backing.

December 18, 2012 at 10:14 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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fred davie

There is a way for local citizens to be involved in landing such an operation <span class=“caps”>WITHOUT</span> depending on the taxpayers.

The developers could fashion some sort of a stock offering or <span class=“caps”>LLC</span> type arrangement and allow locals to invest their own dollars. This would be like kickstarter, except there would be possibility of having a small equitable stake in the operation rather than just a donation.

I’ve had various businesses in the area for the last 30 years and hired local people. I don’t remember the city of Tacoma offering to underwrite any of my expenses.

December 19, 2012 at 12:41 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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