New ideas make big difference for Ohio
Ohio lawmakers have been right, over the past several years, to pay attention to our state’s burgeoning brewery business. Now, the Ohio Craft Brewers Association is celebrating the 400th licensed craft brewery in the state — the Guernsey Brewhouse in Cambridge.
According to the OCBA there is now at least one brewery in 72 of Ohio’s 88 counties, with nearly 40% of those breweries opening in the past three years. Since the start of the pandemic, the state has averaged 48 new brewery openings per year (and 11 average annual closings). Local breweries include Birdfish Brewing in Columbiana, Aeonian Brewing in Allliance and Sandy Springs Brewing Company in Minerva.
Ohio craft beer is gaining an international reputation. That means it is doing more than just wetting Ohioans’ whistle. An entire tourism industry is growing up around it, too; and that is good for communities across the state. There are brewery passports, craft beer trails and festivals. The OCBA estimates Ohio craft breweries accounted for more than $880 million in economic activity and 8,300 local jobs in 2020. As we appear to be transitioning away from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the association expects the industry to continue to grow.
Craft brewing is just one example of how an outside-the-box industry can challenge our thinking about diversifying and growing our economy — not to mention improving quality of life and attracting/retaining residents. Lawmakers and communities would do well to take that example as a reminder to be open about new ideas when it comes to moving toward our brighter future.