Bill looks to bring 400 brewery jobs to SC

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCIV) - Two state Senators this week filed a bill to change the state's brewery laws to lure Stone Brewing Company and its 400 jobs.{}According to Sens. Sean Bennett (R-Dorchester) and Paul Campbell (R-Berkeley), Stone Brewing is looking to build an East Coast brewery for distribution - and they want it in the Palmetto State.{}Bennett said in a release this week that Stone would bring in a $31-million investment and 400 jobs within its first five years. Charleston, Lexington, and Horry counties have all expressed interest in being Stone's East Coast home, he said.{}But Bennett said there is a problem - the state's laws won't let Stone be both a brewery and a brewpub.{}"A brewery can create an unlimited amount of beer and distribute its product, but not serve food. A brewpub can serve food, but its beer production is limited to 2,000 barrels per year and restricted from distribution. That means Stone cannot both distribute its beer and create a beer garden and restaurant for tourists," Bennett said in a release.Bennett and Stone say their bill pushes the brewpub brewing limit from 2,000 barrels per year to 500,000 barrels per year."We want Stone Brewery to know that we're dead serious. Bring those jobs to South Carolina," Senator Bennett said. "Stone will help solidify the Palmetto State as the nation's top tourist destination."The bill will be filed in the House of Representatives when it returns from Easter Break by Representative Derham Cole (R-Spartanburg) along with co-sponsor Jim Merrill (R-Charleston)."This bill, like the pint bill passed last year, will create jobs and investment in the South Carolina economy," Representative Cole said. "Let's continue building the industry and stay competitive with our neighboring states.""This is all about creating jobs," said John Bauknight of the South Carolina Brewers Association. "South Carolina's brewers are working hard to help the state's economic comeback."
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