Main Street Waterbury
- Page 11
WaterBEERy: Why Beer Could Spark Downtown Revitalization
Dan Pesce
Economic Vitality Committee
Main Street Waterbury

In every region of the country, craft breweries have been popping up at a rapid rate. Since 2009, the number of craft breweries has grown by over 4,000 according to the Brewers Association, an increase of 17%. From New England to the West Coast, these new businesses have brought about a renaissance of makers, drawing young people and creating vibrant economies. Nationally, craft breweries provide over 130,000 jobs and play a major role in many urban centers.

Many breweries tend to start their operations in cheaper industrial space, preferably with high ceilings and large space for tanks and other equipment. Many of the brewery districts that are emerging in U.S. cities tend to be located in parts of the city that were once bustling with manufacturing and warehouse activity. These are the types of districts that have been hit hardest by de-industrialization, and brewing can fill some of that vacant industrial space.

Because of this, industrial cities like Columbus, Ohio have created entire brewery districts, transforming old mill and warehouse space into a thriving community of food vendors, artists and a wide range of restaurants and bars. Downtown Waterbury is not short of these types of spaces. The large manufacturing past of the city as well as a significant amount of available warehouse space puts downtown in an enviable position in regard to luring in a brewery of its own.

Waterbury also boasts copious amounts of clean water, necessary for a clean and safe production for brewing. This has led to the opening of Waterbury’s first brewery in 2015. Brass Works Brewing is located on Thomaston Avenue and produces a large variety of beer on premises and has recently started canning. Main Street Waterbury wants brewers to know: Downtown Waterbury is open for business.

The Economic Vitality Committee works to strengthen the economic base in Downtown by helping existing businesses to expand, recruiting new businesses for a balanced mix, and converting unused space into productive property. Tasked with this mission, the Economic Vitality Committee is in the process of developing a brewery recruitment package to specifically target breweries that want to startup or expand their business.

The pitch of the EVC is to showcase specifi c buildings that are prime for this type of development while also highlighting the demographics that are in place to make the venture successful. Part of this work involves the fact that Library Park, located in the heart of downtown hosts over 2,000 beer enthusiasts every year at the Brass City Brew Fest. In its 14th year, the Brew Fest is among the most prestigious in the region. See the story on the Brew Fest on page 13.

If you would like to join the Economic Vitality Committee or are interested in starting a business in downtown Waterbury, contact dpesce@waterburychamber.com or call (203) 757-0701 Ext.302.