Gov. Andrew Cuomo has launched a service to streamline regulatory processes for New York’s $22 billion alcoholic beverage industry. The one-stop-shop initiative is designed to give producers a single point of government contact for licensing, regulatory, and incentives issues.
The idea for the service came from New York’s first Wine, Beer and Spirits summit held last October.
That’s where industry representatives raised concerns about the number of state agencies they had to deal with; they said it made processes confusing, they often didn’t know who to talk to, and this could result in avoidable fines.
Ken Adams is the CEO of Empire State Development, the body that will run the service. He says streamlining the process is key to industry growth.
“Until he [Cuomo] launched this one stop shop, an entrepreneur in this industry starting a winery, looking for a beer license, producing cider, shipping distilled products - whatever it might be - might have to approach as many as nine different state agencies.”
A fast growing industry
Adams says it’s important to create a business friendly environment for the sector, as it is growing at a fast rate.
In the past ten years, New York state has seen the creation of more than 200 wineries. The state is home to 316 wineries in total, as well as multiple breweries, cideries and distilleries.
“We don’t want to have any obstacles in the way of these entrepreneurs and of all this really important investment, particularly upstate and in upstate communities where these wineries and cideries are just taking off.”
Adams says that the one stop shop initiative will enable producers to bring their products to market faster, and for small operations this is crucial.
“The governor’s directive here was for us to create a one stop shop to streamline that process, to make it as user friendly as possible for these entrepreneurs to launch their businesses and get their beverage products to market as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
Empire State Development has set up a website and hotline for industry members to contact. The website includes a list of incentives, grants, loans, and special permits available to beverage producers from many different state agencies.
It also provides a platform for producers to ask questions and receive legal and regulatory advice.
Initiative welcomed by the industry
The launch of the one-stop-shop has been applauded by members of New York’s beer, wine, spirits, and cider industries.
President of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation, Jim Trezise says the initiative will put New York ahead of other states and will allow small producers to focus on building their business and producing quality products.
"The one stop shop is a tremendously valuable resource for the grape and wine industry, as well as other farm-based beverages such as beer, spirits and cider. The vast majority of New York producers are small, family-owned businesses run by law-abiding citizens who certainly don’t have in-house legal counsel and limited resources for outside attorneys. So this one-stop shopping service for many different kinds of legal and regulatory questions will save them time and money while also helping to ensure that they abide by the law—and it will let them focus on making great local products, building their businesses, and contributing to New York’s economy. This bold initiative puts New York ahead of other states, and we are very grateful to Gov. Cuomo for creating it."
Cuomo said at the Wine, Beer and Spirits Summit in October, that the service would also provide a safety net for producers.
He said the one stop shop would supply staff to follow up on questions from producers and they would individually provide advice.
But if the advice was wrong, the governor said:
“If you follow the advice of this person and the advice turns out to run afoul of any of the other agencies, you will be held harmless from any potential violations.”
Empire State Development CEO Ken Adams says the service will help people in the beverage industry to run legal businesses and ensure they are compliant.