LIVINGSTON COUNTY, N.Y. (WROC-TV) - A $3.5 billion dollar industry here in New York State is about to get even bigger.
We're talking about craft beer, where we rank fourth in the country when it comes to economic impact and have nearly 250 microbreweries.
Though if you look at a beer map, there's a nice concentration of breweries downstate and in the Finger Lakes, but one area that's lacking is Livingston County.
That's why the county is now hoping to hop into the industry with a new competition to attract microbreweries to the area.
Director of Economic Development for Livingston County, Bill Bacon, said, "the wineries around Seneca Lake, Keuka Lake, they exist. Livingston county doesn't really have anything that sort of draws more tourism to its area, and this is something we think that we can capitalize on."
The county's new business plan contest is called 'Brew in Livingston'. It will invest upwards of $600,000 dollars to establish four new breweries in the area.
Livingston County is seeking $200,000 in state grants, the rest of the money will come from a revolving loan fund.
NYS Brewers Association Executive Director, Paul Leone, said, "people who go on brewery tours like to visit more than one brewery. So, I think the fact that they're looking for 4 breweries is really smart, because now people will go: 'okay, well I can visit this brewery, and there are 3 more close by,' and it makes sense for them to make the trip."
According to NYS Brewers Association data, New York ranks 5th in the country for beer production.
"Breweries are an economic engine. They create jobs, they create businesses that surround them when they open," said Leone.
Bringing breweries to the area will help bolster what Bacon says are Livingston County's strengths: agriculture and accessibility.
"There's going to be hops farmers. We believe that there are going to be more than just four breweries. It's just a matter of starting that ball rolling and we can get the rest to build on," said Bacon, who hopes by this time next year, the winners of the competition will be thinking about brewing.
As for the contest, it is in the very early stages, and judging will begin in 2017 once financing and prize packages are determined.
If you are a brewer or someone interested in submitting a plan for the competition, click here.