TechConnect Program Aids Kanawha Valley Brewing/Distilling Entrepreneurs
Just a few short years ago Bullock Distillery, Clendenin Brewing, and Mountain State Distillery, all based in the Kanawha Valley in or near Charleston, were fledgling, early-stage companies trying to get their dream off the ground. Today, through hard work, perseverance, and a little help from TechConnect West Virginia’s TechWrxWV Program and the Chemical Alliance Zone, they are finding success and developing a following for their locally distilled and brewed products.
John Bullock, CEO of Bullock Distillery, said, “The Chemical Alliance Zone (CAZ) provided just the right amount of financial help at just the right time. We were wobbly on our feet when we received the CAZ grant. And that assist gave us was the support we needed to push through our challenges at the time.”
Bullock Distillery, which has now grown to five employees, has developed a whiskey distillery in one of Charleston’s Elk City neighborhood. The Chemical Alliance Zone assisted the company by providing technology and commercialization support.
Producing high-quality, craft beer, Clendenin Brewing Co. opened in June 2022. “We have anywhere from 10-14 different beers on tap concurrently,” said Matt Holbert, company owner. “The assistance provided through the TechWrxWV Program allowed us to add an extra fermenter to our production capabilities – not only increasing our total output, but also the types of beer we can offer. If groups make the trip to Clendenin, they are sure to find a beer they like.”
Mountain State Distillery is a small, boutique style micro-distillery located in historic downtown Charleston. CAZ, through the TechWrxWV Program, helped the company in a variety of ways, from sourcing raw materials and sales guidance to funding assistance. “Starting up, I applied for a grant to purchase a piece of equipment that I thought was going to simply make things easier,” said Jeff Arthur, company owner. “I’ve come to realize I couldn’t do what I do without it. Working with CAZ was one of the best opportunities I have had.”
TechConnect West Virginia’s TechWrxWV Program was designed to help entrepreneurs reach the next level of growth and stability in their development and contribute to the region’s overall economic resilience. The organization’s unique collaboration-based model of delivering technical services to West Virginia’s entrepreneurial community continues to produce measurable results for the state’s economy.