We think local governments that help jump start a local craft brewing community are pretty rad. This is why we thought the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries in Canada was the raddest for launching a loan program last January specifically for craft breweries — The Craft Liquor Opportunity Fund. These would be loans of up to $250,000 for the purchase of equipment.
Well, it’s a year later and according to CJOB AM 680, Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries is ending the program. This is definitely not rad, but understandable. After all, the spokesperson for the group was honest about why they ended it:
“Business development loans is really outside our core mandate and definitely outside our area of expertise,” said Andrea Kowal, spokesperson for Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries. “And even though we did embark on developing it, it eventually became clear this was something we just could not do and could not do well.”
What’s not understandable is during the year it was allegedly in place, no money was loaned. That is most un-rad. Canadian breweries understandably got excited and built business plans with this in mind, and to this point, have just been left out in the cold. And this is Canada, so it’s freezing outside.
Liquor and Lotteries circulated a memo to about 30 businesses explaining itself. Here is that memo:
“As you may be aware, Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries has reviewed the previously announced Manitoba Craft Liquor Opportunity Fund. We do understand the importance of capital funding to small businesses and to the local craft brewing industry in particular; both to get your businesses off the ground and to ensure their continued growth. However, these types of programs are outside our core mandate and expertise, and therefore we will not be proceeding with this program.
Other agencies such as the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) are better able to provide programs that offer opportunities for funding and advisory services to help support your businesses. These programs have already proven a good fit for other Canadian brewers and distillers. We really encourage you to connect with them.
Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries remains committed to supporting and promoting local liquor producers. We are excited to continue working together to promote and sell your unique made-in-Manitoba products.”