City to invest millions for whiskey distillery facilities


Tori Bedsole

Features Editor

The city of Troy will contribute monetary and other incentives to Conecuh Ridge Distillery to locate a whiskey distillery in Troy, according to Mayor Jason Reeves.

According to a memorandum of understanding between the city and the distillery, the distillery will be built on a 71-acre site off Trojan Way on the northern side of town, which will be purchased by the city for an estimated $1.6 million and conveyed to Conecuh Ridge Distillery at no cost to the company.

Reeves said the project is expected to break ground within one year. The distillery is anticipated to be operational within two years, though there is no set timeline for the construction.

Gov. Kay Ivey announced that the official spirit of Alabama will be making Troy its new home during a press conference on Thursday, Sept. 14.

According to Ivey, Conecuh Ridge Distillery, producer of Clyde May’s Whiskey, will be investing $13.6 million in the city through its construction of the distillery, rack houses, a bottling hub and tourist tasting experience.

According to a press release from Ivey’s office, “The Long Island, New York-based company supplies its products throughout the United States and will make the Troy facility its distilling and bottling headquarters, according to Vince Perez, a project manager for the Alabama Department of Commerce who supported the recruitment of this project.”

Reeves said the city hopes the development will bring more businesses to the north end of Troy around Continental Cinemas and the Pioneer Museum.

Troy University also issued a marketing commitment to the company, in which the university offered a partnership with the company with incentives including “local, authentic brand counsel”; “traditional and social media relations counsel, planning and training”; and “video production and still photography.”

Gen. Walter Givhan, senior vice chancellor for advancement and  economic development, signed the letter, stating, “We have academic professionals and programs, as well as bright and capable students, that fit with what they’re trying to do in their business and could be a great source for their needs.”

The city will spend an estimated $1.2 million “for the construction of a public entry road from Trojan Way to the structure at the Troy Facility,” the memorandum states.

According to negotiations and contract agreements between the city and Conecuh Ridge Distillery, certain incentives will be made to the company with financial limitations and stipulations.

Resolution No. 2017-82, which was adopted by the City Council, states that the city will not only acquire the property and build the road, but will also “make incentive payments to the Company not to exceed $100,000 per year for up to five years; pay for certain billboard advertisements for the benefit of the Company, at a cost not to exceed $26,000 per year for a period of up to five years; provide an advertisement for the benefit of the Company to be displayed on a City water tower at a cost not to exceed $50,000; make payments to the Company for a term of up to 10 years in amounts not to exceed $5,000 per year, subject to the Company’s usage of the City’s electric system at certain minimum volumes; and perform the other obligations of the City under the Project Agreement (collectively, the ‘Incentives’), all to be particularly described in and subject to the terms and conditions of the Project Agreement.”

According to Reeves, the company must fulfill its responsibilities in order to receive the funds and incentives.

The company must “create at least 30 new, permanent, full-time positions at the Troy Facility with an average annual salary of $54,274,” according to the memorandum.

According to Ivey’s press release, “(Conecuh Ridge Distillery) expects to employ 50 people in the fifth year of operation. The average annual wage for those jobs is around $54,000.”

Roy Danis, chief executive officer for Conecuh Ridge, said proposals were sent to various communities in the state before Troy was chosen.

“We got around 30 responses from communities, which we evaluated, and narrowed it down to 15, then six and then two,” Danis said at the press conference. “We just recently decided on Troy.”

Reeves said a large part of the city’s recruitment of Conecuh Ridge Distillery came in the form of a video that was created to highlight what Troy has to offer the company.

The video, which takes the viewer on a tour of the major attractions of the city and shows members of the City Council and state Rep. Alan Boothe, ends with “Welcome home Clyde May; welcome home Conecuh Ridge; welcome home to Troy, Alabama.”

According to Danis, the proximity to Bullock County, where Clyde May made his moonshine, was also a drawing point for the company.

“We plan to build, not just the distillery, but a consumer experience center, and in time we will even build a retail store, a restaurant and even a lodging facility,” Danis said at the press conference. “We will hold special events at the center as well.”

Ivey said the company is a step toward her goal of bringing more businesses to the state.

“Since day one of taking office, I have emphasized to my administration and to the people of Alabama my commitment to recruiting more jobs to our state,” Ivey said. “That’s what we are celebrating here today—new jobs with a good wage.

“We want to invest in businesses that want to invest in Alabamians. That is exactly what is happening today.”

According to Ivey, Conecuh Ridge will attract tourists to the area.

“They will be coming here to try the legendary Clyde May’s whiskey, the official spirit of Alabama,” Ivey said during the press conference. “Together, we are working to change Alabama for the better, and together we are achieving the impossible, and together we are building a better future for our children.”

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