GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - Owners of micro breweries say beer is a big factor in West Michigan's economy, so much so, that it brings people and other businesses to the area.
The owners of breweries and brew pubs took part in a DeVos Place seminar Tuesday on retail growth and development. Part of the focus was the positive effects of beer on the economy.
West Michigan has seen a number of new beer-related businesses open. The brewers say their operations are economic engines.
"If you need to develop an area, put a brewery there and people will come and seek it out. Once you do that, I think it opens the possibilities for other businesses around that to happen. I've seen it happen time and again from everywhere -- from Colorado where I spent a lot of time in -- to here in Michigan. It just seems to be one of those businesses people will travel to," says Jason Spaulding, owner of Brewery Vivant.
Brewery owners say their businesses are also key to turning around rundown warehouse districts, leading to the development of residential and retail growth in those areas.
Meanwhile, the biggest brewery in Grand Rapids is expanding its distribution network.
Founders Brewing Company reached a deal that will bring its beers to Texas starting next month. Founders plans to include all of its year-round and seasonal ales as draft product in the first shipment. Bottled beers will be sold starting in May.
In December the brewery won a state grant to help pay for a $26 million expansion, allowing it to brew four times the amount of beer it can make now.