Brewpub recruitment extended
In the three months since the Madras Redevelopment Commission launched its effort to recruit a brewpub or brewery to Madras, the city has fielded at least 30 inquiries.
The MRC's unusual plan to entice a brewery to locate in Madras — the only city with a population of more than 2,000 in Central Oregon without a brewery — drew considerable interest as the story spread. According to Nick Snead, director of the Madras Community Development Department, the story was picked up by the Associated Press, and inquiries poured in from Oregon, Washington, California, Montana, and as far away as Massachusetts and Australia. "A lot of people heard about it and shared it with friends they thought might be interested," he said.
The idea for recruiting a brewery dated back to 2015, when the MRC updated its Urban Renewal Action Plan, with participation from more than 300 local people. The MRC oversees the city's urban renewal district, which runs through the city's core. The top priority for the community was a department store, followed by a brewery.
When the recruitment process began, in December, Snead said that the feedback from news outlets was both interest and surprise that a city was attempting to recruit a brewery.
Snead said that he had to explain, "We're recruiting a brewery, but what we're really recruiting is the economic activity that goes with it."
As an example, he said that Bend, which has at least 26 breweries, is a popular tourist destination. "A lot of tourists go there for outdoor recreation, and then they go to the breweries."
By attracting a brewery, Snead hopes to encourage others from outside the area to visit Madras, dine in the downtown area, and then check out other businesses.
"They'd see it's a wonderful place to live and work and maybe they'd want to open a business here or live and work here," said Snead. "I toured one group from the Bend area through the downtown area and the community and they were blown away. They didn't know about the views and the community assets."
"The MRC is not requiring proposals to identify the location of their proposed brewpub, because they may not have control of the property and or there may be several parties interested in the same property which could result in increased property acquisition or lease rates," said Snead.
"It's not the desire of the MRC to inflate real estate prices, rather recruit a business to downtown Madras that brings with it lots of interest, activity, and inspires other businesses to locate in the downtown area," he said.
If the MRC is fortunate enough to receive two workable proposals, Snead said he anticipates that the commission would consider both. "I cannot speak for the commission, but my feeling is that if there are two viable proposals that are substantively different and wouldn't compete with each other for business, then I can see the commission would be interested in finding a way to fund two proposals."
Last week, the city extended the deadline for submitting a request for proposal to Friday, March 16, at 5 p.m.
"We will open them Monday (March 19) and look at proposals and figure out which ones we want to move forward on interviewing," said Snead. An MRC subcommittee will review the proposals and make a recommendation to the MRC.
Assistance packages might range from $200,000-$500,000. "When we select, they're going to figure out where they want to locate and figure out what kind of financial assistance they're going to need," said Snead.
The city, which can borrow up to $14 million over the life of the urban renewal district, obtained a line of credit of up to $1 million last year. "We've used a little over $2.5 million," he said.