Minister of Finance Joe Ceci stopped in Red Deer recently to visit a local brewery that will benefit from the new Small Brewers Development Grant aimed to grow the small businesses.
The announcement of the development grant followed legislation that changed the mark-up rate for all beers in the province – now at $1.25, regardless of the origin of the beer.
Ceci said this mark-up was a way to “level the playing field” and allow for all beer producers to pay the same price to sell their beer in the province.
“There are two parts to what’s going on: the first part was the mark-up, where we ensured that every beer that comes into the province is paying the same.
“The second part is the Small Brewers Development grant, which helps people like Charlie (owner of Troubled Monk) and other breweries throughout Alberta who are producing great, world-class quality beer to grow their business, hire more people and develop our economy in a diversified manner,” said Ceci.
“We’re too narrowly focused on the oil and gas sector production and if that falls off because of world prices, we are challenged in this province to ensure revenues are still coming in and ensure business revenues remain high. They are not high right now, so diversifying our economy is critical.”
Ceci said the province has received some criticism towards the mark-up – notably from Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall – but that the price was still lower than many other provinces and it was a way to clarify the prices for beer developers.
“This government stands behind small business development and diversification of our economy. Thanks to people like Charlie Bredo and the investment he is making in this small brewery, we’re going to be better off in the long term. People are hired here, investment is occurring and we know Alberta is in a better place thanks to diversification,” he said.
“We absolutely believe we are trade compliant with this new $1.25 mark-up. The same kinds of things go on in other provinces across the country, we are just a little slow in this process. We’re going to catch up, and we’re going to ensure that Alberta companies and jobs are first in our consideration, just like they are in Brad Wall’s consideration.”
The mark-up is expected to generate approximately $36 million in revenue for the province, and the Small Brewers Development Grant has set aside $20 million for business developments.
Ceci said that remaining $15 million – $16 million will head to the province’s general revenues fund to be used primarily for infrastructure projects.
“Everyone knows we’re in a challenging economy in Alberta right now. We need to ensure that people are put back to work, and more Albertans are working in a diversified economy going forward so that we can derive greater revenue from those companies and from those corporate and personal income taxes. We want people working and companies to thrive – that’s where our focus is.
“I think this grant program is exactly what is needed at this point in time to stimulate our economy and encourage young entrepreneurs to build their businesses,” Ceci added.
He said he was excited to be in Red Deer exploring one of the many small breweries in the province that are helping to diversify the economy, stimulate job growth and put Albertans back to work.
Charlie Bredo, one of the co-founders of Troubled Monk Brewery, acknowledged the potential for his business to grow and said he was excited to see the new development grant launch.
“We knew the new mark-up and grant programs were coming in around the same time, and that made sense to us, so we weren’t too worried. In a perfect world, you’d see all the borders open up between provinces so people could sell beer more easily. If you look at B.C. or Ontario, there aren’t many small Alberta beers on shelves,” Bredo said.
“Alberta has world-class beer, and when people start looking at and registering that, it’s going to be more promotion of our breweries, our products and our market is going to get even better. In the long term, there is so much potential to grow our business. We want to sell as much as we can in Red Deer and then move into the bigger cities such as Edmonton and Calgary and other various towns and cities throughout the province.”