When Stone Brewing Co., the nation’s 10th-largest craft beer producer, announced its list of potential new locations, South Carolina wasn’t on it due largely to the fact of its high taxes.
The San Diego, Calif.-based company narrowed its list to Columbus, Ohio; Richmond, Va.; and Norfolk, Va.
According to GreenvilleOnline, Greenville, S.C. was on the list almost to the end.
Brook Bristow, who is general counsel for the S.C. Brewers Association and assisted in recruitment efforts said that those other cities were chosen because they are not just centrally located — they also offer a better tax climate.
Both Ohio and Virginia have vastly lower excise taxes on beer — 18 cents per gallon in Ohio, 26 cents per gallon in Virginia, compared to 77 cent per gallon in South Carolina, he told Greenville Online.
“We can’t do anything about where we are, but we can make where we are more attractive for business,” Bristow said. “The brewers association’s next priority is cutting that tax. Currently, South Carolina has one of the 10 highest excise taxes in the country. That has to change to seriously compete with other states.”
South Carolina did make some changes to try and pretty itself for Stone Brewing.
Governor Nikki Haley signed “Stone Law,” which loosened restrictions on beer production and consumption in an effort to make the state more attractive for Stone’s $31 million project.
The bill, which was pushed through this spring after it became clear that brewery was interested in the state, changed the law to allow producing large amounts of beer while also operating a restaurant.
Unfortunately the bill wasn’t enough to woo Stone Brewery. Though it was a step in the right direction, Stone was turned off by South Carolina’s high taxes and regulations. Hopefully South Carolina, a so-called “Red State,” will start changing its laws to embracing free market principles.
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