Madras puts call out for brewery
The city of Madras is looking to change its status as the only Central Oregon city without a brewery or brewpub. On Monday, the city announced its recruitment plans to bring a brewery to town.
At the same time, the city launched an attractive, polished website, with the theme of "Dream it. Do it. Brew it," which lays out the reasons why the city wants a brewery, why the city is the perfect location for a brewery, and what incentives it will offer.
"In 2015, when the Madras Redevelopment Commission updated their Urban Renewal Action Plan, over 300 people participated in identifying what to accomplish in the next 10 years," said Nick Snead, director of the Madras Community Development Department. "Their top priority was a general merchandiser or department store; the second most important project was to recruit a brewery."
To achieve that goal, the Madras Redevelopment Commission, which oversees the city's urban renewal district, will consider offering assistance to a developer, owner or operator who opens a brewery or brewpub within the Madras URD. The assistance can be financial or technical, including help with site selection; architectural, engineering, permit, site development or building renovation costs; tenant improvements; expedited permitting; wastewater disposal design; environmental efforts; or with obtaining a small business start-up loan from Jefferson County.
"Whether you're an established brewer looking to expand, a business guru looking for the next investment, or the passion-project type who's driven by the love of beer, good food, and community, we want to talk to you," said Snead.
The city established the urban renewal district, which extends along U.S. Highway 97 from north of Cedar Street south to Merritt Lane, in 2002. As part of the plans for the district, the city can spend up to $14 million over 20 years to remove blight and improve the downtown area.
Beginning in 2004, the Madras Redevelopment Commission set about realizing the city's visions of a pool, movie theater, downtown facade improvements, and a large meeting room at a new hotel. Within a decade, all of those project goals — and many others — were achieved, with assistance from MRC funding.
Two years ago, the city again surveyed the community on urban renewal, and the resulting report highlighted the importance of a brewery to the city's vision.
"When hundreds of community members provided input on our city's Urban Renewal Action Plan and said that recruiting a brewery is a top priority, it was clear — Madras is ready for a brewery or brewpub to call its own," said Madras Mayor Royce Embanks. "The vision is for a vibrant community gathering place and an inviting destination for friends, family, and tourists."
In consultation with Pratt Rather, manager of GoodLife Brewing Co., of Bend, the city decided that a small brewery and pub all in one location, or a brewery at the Madras Industrial Site with a pub in downtown Madras would be the best options.
"Madras is an underserved brewery or brewpub market, and the city's incentive package alone is a game-changer for anyone thinking about doing this," said Rather, noting that it's a "one-of-a-kind opportunity."
The city believes it is the perfect location for a brewery because of its pure, award-winning Opal Springs water, its locally grown and malted grain and locally grown and raised food, and its beautiful location in Central Oregon.
Seth Klann, of Madras, owner of Mecca Grade Estate Malt, is currently growing and malting specialty grains on land north of Madras that has been farmed by his family for more than 100 years.
"Madras offers such a unique opportunity for a brewer or brew pub because we're one of the few towns that can supply a completely local brewery, from amazing water and locally grown and malted grain, to local produce, beef, pork, and dairy," said Klann. "It could be a celebration of our whole community, which is pretty cool."
Since Bend currently has 26 breweries, Redmond has three, and Prineville, Sisters and Sunriver each has one, Madras officials hope that the incentives will tip the scales in the city's favor.
"It's a great opportunity for someone to invest in a brewery here in an underserved market with limited competition," said Snead. "There aren't too many cities in the nation that are actually recruiting breweries; our consultant told us it's very unique. The MRC is willing to make this happen by providing a robust business incentive."
"What we're hoping is that a really quality brew pub will enhance the character of downtown Madras, which will hopefully catalyze additional activity downtown," he said.
"It's not necessarily the beer we're after," Snead continued. "What we know is we need to revitalize our downtown to make sure that we have unique dining and retail experience. In doing so, it makes our community that much better since it's easier for our employers to recruit people for their organizations."