DuClaw Brewing Company is looking to expand its operations to an industrial park in Havre de Grace.
Meghan Simmons, manager of economic development for the city of Havre de Grace, told members of the Economic Development Advisory Board at their meeting Wednesday morning about the brewery's news, a move that will hopefully create jobs and tourism for Harford County.
The company is eyeing the old Collins and Aikman Auto Plastics site at 1601 Clark Road, which has sat empty "for the last three years," according to Jim Richardson, Harford County's director of economic development. There was no word as to when the micro-brewery would open.
"This is an extremely great opportunity for Havre de Grace and Harford County," Richardson noted. He went on to say that the "master plan" of this expansion is to attract the Maryland Microbrewery Festival, which was held in Westminster this year, to the county and the proposed DuClaw site. The company also hopes to expand as a microbrewery and be able to manufacture and sell its beer across the country, rather than just locally.
Richardson commented that microbreweries nationwide are picking up business from bigger companies, such as Anheuser-Busch.
Harford Community College President Dennis Golladay, pleased at the news, joked, "Life is too short for bad beer."
The expansion "will require tourism to get in gear," Richardson said, as the new site will surely become another destination in Havre de Grace. "I really believe it has potential of being tremendous," he later commented.
Richardson said he was surprised that news had come out about the deal in the Baltimore Business Journal Dec. 9, since the deal has not been signed. After the EDAB meeting, Richardson said nothing would be completed for another three or four months.
Calls to DuClaw president David Benfield was not immediately returned.
Other business during Wednesday's EDAB meeting:
Three presentations focused on the importance of growing small businesses in Harford County, and the resources available to them to help them succeed.
As the county's chief financial manager, Kathleen Wajer, pointed out, "Everybody was a small business once."
Two organizations aimed at assisting small businesses with strategies for succeeding, workshops and other tools are the Maryland Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAP) and the Maryland Small Business Development Center (SBDC).
PTAP assists small businesses for free in how to do business with federal, state and local government agencies by providing workshops and training classes, such as proposal writing and introduction to the procurement process, and individualized counseling.
Harford County director of SBDC, Russ Teeter, said "Paying off debt is an amazingly big goal for entrepreneurs coming in" for their program. Teeter added that more than 10,000 people "walk through our door" every year.
According to statistics included in Teeter's presentation, small businesses experience nine times the job growth of an average business after receiving assistance from the center. Also, those businesses have a 50 percent better chance of survival than those who do not seek help.