Finance Minister Joe Ceci says Alberta is finally catching up to others when it comes to supporting local business by introducing its new grant program for small breweries.
“We believe we’re picking Albertans to win when this kind of investment takes place, when people are put to work, when they’re successfully and gainfully employed in good beer jobs,” said Ceci who is touring Alberta breweries and visited Troubled Monk Brewery on Wednesday.
“We are directly involved with small brewers in Alberta to see them advance their business plans. When they do that, Alberta benefits.”
He said the grant is the most expeditious way to ensure small breweries grow quickly.
Last week the province announced that small Alberta-based brewers who produce and sell no more than 300,000 hectolitres in Alberta annually will be eligible to participate in the Alberta Small Brewers Development Program.
The grant will reimburse about 40 brewers for the new $1.25 per litre tax that will be put on all beer sold in the province starting Friday and help make small brewers more competitive.
Charlie Bredo, co-founder of Troubled Monk Brewery, said he will use the grant to keep his prices lower which will be especially helpful against aggressive, big brewers in British Columbia and Saskatchewan, provinces where Alberta brewers are not allowed to sell their product.
“I was worried long term because they were growing their market share by under cutting us and in two or three years they’ll increase their prices. In the meantime that’s preventing me from growing,” Bredo said.
“Now their prices have to go up because it’s a taxation. If all else is equal, why wouldn’t people pick the local product. Price is good. Quality is good. It’s local. No brainer.”
He said the grant levels the playing field and promotes economic diversification.
“I don’t know too many people, regardless of political background, who would argue that an economy shouldn’t be diversified. It makes a lot of sense. We’ve relied so much on oil and gas. At some point it will end.”
He said local producers of ingredients to make beer, like barley, will also benefit.
“These changes will help these industries grow. We’re going to be able to get almost all of our grain locally,” Bredo said.