As many as 300,000 people a year could visit a proposed Guinness brewery and taproom in Relay and a company executive said Thursday night that nearby businesses will be promoted, not hindered.
"My hope is that when folks come and visit, they're going to take a look at other opportunities in Arbutus, Catonsville and the city of Baltimore," said Dwayne Kratt, senior director of government affairs for Diageo, the international company that owns Guinness and other major beverage brands.
Kratt was on hand for a public meeting in Arbutus with residents, the first since the company announced plans to open a $50 million brewery at a shuttered liquor plant on Washington Boulevard.
Reactions to the plans were largely positive.
Kratt suggested there could be signs in the taproom to promote neighboring businesses to tourists.
"The brewery will help establish a destination which Arbutus can benefit from," said Bettina Tebo, president of the Greater Arbutus Business Association.
The project is estimated to create 40 jobs in the brewery and another 30 for the hospitality center.
"For them to bring 70 jobs is a big deal," said Ernie Bailey, president of the Lansdowne Improvement Association. "Yeah, it's a beer brewery, but jobs are of big importance around here because there are not a lot of companies hiring anybody."
Christopher Zach, acting president of the Relay Improvement Association, a community group, said there haven't been many concerns among its members.
"People know that breweries have been in Relay in the past and it has a long history going back," he said. "So we think this could be a very interesting neighbor and are looking forward to getting to know them."
Bottling operations were last in place at the Diageo factory in 2015, but the site has a richer history. In 1933, Maryland Distillery opened the plant on Washington Boulevard as the state's first legal distillery after Prohibition, according to a 2012 account from the county's economic development department.
Kratt said the target opening date is October, coinciding with the 200th anniversary of the arrival of Guinness in the United States.
Kratt said building designs are in the works. State highway planners are looking at traffic patterns and the adequacy of roads.
The company also needs the state legislature to approve bills allowing the brewery and taproom, spelling out things such as operating hours and the amount of beer that can be sold on premises.
Hearings on the legislation are planned in the coming days in Annapolis.
"There's a lot of excitement and interest in bringing people to southwest Baltimore County and having this as a destination of sorts really can be attractive to the communities that are nearby," said state Del. Clarence Lam, a Democrat whose district covers Relay.
The project also has the support of the region's United Food & Commercial Workers International Union.