Originally Published December 2016 by WSLS10
ROANOKE (WSLS 10) – A look back at the year when it comes to the local economy can be summed up in two words: beer and Botetourt. Beer because it seems to be driving growth whether it’s at a downtown brew pub, or in terms of corporate investment and jobs. Botetourt because the county had a strong year.
Bend, Oregon craft brewer Deschutes Brewery announced in March that it selected Roanoke for its East Coast distribution plant.
“People want to make this business about beer, no it’s about people. It always has been. This is where we felt comfortable,” said Deschutes Founder Gary Fish popping champagne with Governor Terry McAuliffe and local officials during the announcement at the Roanoke City Market building.
Meanwhile another major West Coast brewer, Ballast Point of San Diego, announced in May that it would be moving its East Coast operations to the Lawrence Companies’ facility in Botetourt County, bringing in 178 new jobs and leaving County Administrator Garry Larrowe hopeful that the county’s population might become a little more youthful.
“What I would end up hoping is that this would actually help to attract a younger community in some way,” mused Larrowe as he talked about the vibe that comes with craft beer culture.
The craft beer movement gained ground in other areas as well, with micro-breweries set to open in Bedford with the development of a new restaurant and brew pub in a factory building on Grove Street.
Back in Botetourt, it was more than beer; however, as the county began to make inroads around the exit 150 interchange in Daleville. Gone is the truck stop and inbound are residential and shopping options as officials opened Gateway Crossing in late December.
“A mix of retail and housing, and various kinds of commercial development that can really raise that level of the county to the next level and let it be the economic driver that it is,” said spokesman Cody Sexton.
Eldor Corporation announced in March that it would build a 250,000-square-foot building not far away in the Greenfield Industrial Complex. The auto parts maker will employ about 350 people.
Meanwhile the Virginia Community College system also announced plans to open shop in Botetourt County with its administrative offices set to bring in 200 jobs.