Upper Hutt City wants a craft brewing hub, and has cash incentives for brewers who relocate.
"I see us being a craft beer destination. I’ve got these visions of someone putting on tours that come out to Upper Hutt for the day. If we get a number of breweries set up in a close vicinity to each other, well, there’s huge potential."
The Council's Economic Stimulus Policy offers relocating businesses cash incentives, rates relief and resource consent fee waivers. All industries are welcome, but Phil says there's special interest in craft brewing.
"The beer industry is something we would look on favourably as a council. We want to help those craft beer guys come here. The craft beer market is on a high at the moment and a lot of brewers are outgrowing their premises, and we want to make it easy for them."
Brewers can qualify for financial incentives towards the costs of relocation and refitting new premises. "Potentially, a decent-sized business could tap into $80,000 from us", Phil says. Administrative support is also available: "My role is to bend over backwards and help new business cut through the red tape. The Mayor is right behind it as well."
Both Kereru and Panhead have become spokesmodels for Upper Hutt, starring in glossy council brochures spruiking the city's benefits. Both brewers live locally, and both established their business in vacant industrial buildings. They cite good water quality, cheap rents and cooperative landlords. "Reasonable rent has allowed us to sell our beer at an accessible price. This has been really important to us while we establish our market," says Panhead's Mike Neilson.
Phil hopes other brewers will move to Upper Hutt soon. "I've fielded phone calls from breweries in Auckland, Hawkes Bay, and there’s a number in Wellington we are talking to. I’m talking to three individual breweries at the moment with the potential of them moving out this way."