By: Noah Camin
Blacksburg has recently passed a new ordinance bill that allows for more types of small-scale alcohol production. This bill would allow for the addition of distillery, winery, cidery and most recently meadery and seltzery.
The previous bill only allowed for breweries to be in the industrial or agricultural zone, but now it will be expanded to the general commercial and downtown commercial zones.
According to Blacksburg Mayor Leslie Hager-Smith, she believes it will be a great opportunity for the town to welcome these new businesses.
One of the new distilleries that are eager to make the move over is J.H. Bard’s Spirit Co. “The approval to allow small-scale producers within the General Commercial districts is huge for us” Co-founder Jason Hardy said. “When we approached Town staff about the potential to move to Blacksburg, they sprang into action to help us make it a reality.”
With the expansion of available zones, the Town of Blacksburg hopes this will lead to not only more employment opportunities, but also diverse options for students, tourists and residents as well.
“We certainly hope it provides more job opportunities in town…I think people can expect that well regulated, well run, establishments will broaden the shopping and entertainment opportunities currently available to Blacksburg residents and visitors” Town Council Member Susan Mattingly said.
The Town of Blacksburg has a growing economy, especially with the Virginia Tech campus nearby. Mattingly explains that these types of emerging businesses are very popular among the community and its citizens. They hope that the approval of the ordinance will allow the community to grow.
As stated in the ordinance, the Town of Blacksburg recognizes the challenges in the current commercial business environment and wants to support emerging trends and new niche businesses within the Town.
The vote was brought to the attention of the Blacksburg Counsel on Jan. 10, 2023, during their town meeting. The ordinance was approved with a vote of 7-0 in favor of passing.
“We’re excited to lead the way and would encourage and welcome others to join us…we’re hoping to become a major economic driver for the Town and look forward to welcoming both locals and visitors alike to our tasting room” Hardy said.
There are numerous breweries in the Blacksburg area including Bull and Bones, Eastern Divide Brewing, Lefty’s Right Mind Brewery, Rising Silo Brewery and The Maroon Door.
The town can expect to see the ordinance put into effect immediately and the respective businesses will be able to implement these changes in the coming months.