CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A moonshine distillery and a microbrewery were among businesses receiving preliminary loan approvals from the state Economic Development Authority Thursday morning, part of a pickup in state loan activity.
In addition to helping finance the two business startups, the authority also approved a threephase loan plan designed to help a Harrison County polyurethane company expand its operations.
The three loans, plus an additional loan insurance package, marked a change of pace in the number of business finance packages approved at the authority's monthly meetings.
"It looks like our loan activity has picked up, so that's good news," Economic Development Authority executive director David Warner told board members Thursday morning.
Warner said he couldn't identify any one factor - such as improving economic conditions or an increase in state business startups - that's led to the increase, but he said he expects the trend to continue over the next few months.
"I expect, based on the applications that have come into our office, to have at least another three projects presented for approval next month," Warner said.
Members of the authority board approved two 10-year loans to help Appalachian Distillery LLC and the Greenbrier Valley Brewing Company, Inc. purchase production equipment for their new facilities.
Appalachian Distillery plans to begin producing legal-proof distilled moonshine whiskey and flavored moonshine at a warehouse located along Cedar Lakes Drive near Ripley.
The authority approved an $81,000 loan for the distillery to use to purchase equipment. The interest rate on the 10-year loan was set at 2 percent.
The company had originally planned to locate in Ravenswood, but confusion over that city's zoning laws and protests from a small band of anti-alcohol Christian fundamentalists led the company to decide against locating in that town.
The company plans to employ six people during its first year, growing to a 10-person staff by its third year of operation.
The Greenbrier Valley Brewing Company plans to open its microbrewery operation in a warehouse at the Rahall Technology and Business Center near Lewisburg. The microbrewery will be located across the street from the Smooth Ambler distillery.
The brewing company plans to produce and package a variety of craft beers for distribution and sale in state retail establishments.
The authority approved a 10year, $465,300 loan to help the brewery purchase equipment. The interest rate on the loan was also set at 2 percent.