By: Max Crampton-Thomas
2 min read November 2019 — The Tampa Bay region is known for having and being headquarters to a wide variety of business types. While all these businesses contribute to the local economy and community in various ways, perhaps one of the most sought after and visited are the local breweries that call Tampa Bay home. One of the most well-known is Cigar City Brewing, which started as a local brand and has now expanded to become a widely recognized national presence. Invest: spoke with Brand Manager Neil Callaghan about how Tampa Bay has shaped the company, being stewards of the environment and the impact the brewery has on the local economy.
How has Tampa Bay influenced the brand and culture of your business?
Our Brewery is unique in that so much of what we do is really influenced by the culture, the cuisine and the history of Tampa Bay. We feel like our success has really been part and parcel of the story of Tampa Bay resonating with people outside of the Florida area. We are extremely fortunate because we do get a lot of tourism to this region for a number of reasons, whether to visit family or go to the beach. Tampa Bay has really molded what we are doing as a company, from the names of our beers to how we market ourselves. This speaks to the way outsiders have responded to the culture of Tampa Bay as a whole. Tampa is still our biggest market by a long shot, and we are still growing at a double-digit rate in the Tampa Bay area, which is exceptional.
How important is consistent innovation to your business?
The questions we constantly ask ourselves are: How do we keep people engaged? How do we keep them excited? And how do we keep that growth trajectory where it has been for the last few years? The answer is innovation. We are not a company that puts out a beer and just keeps pushing it for years. We have been incredibly fortunate with our brands like Jai Alai, which is our biggest seller, but at the same time it is the new brands, styles of beer, new ingredients and new processes that we are working with that keep people interested. Our innovation is really going to help us continue to grow for the foreseeable future. We are not just brewing the same beers that we were brewing five years ago. We always want to maintain the quality and consistency that we have never deviated from since day one, but our innovation is really where we are putting a lot of our chips these days.
How is Cigar City Brewing promoting environmental sustainability in the region?
In the last year, one big innovation that we have worked on in regards to environmental sustainability is our move away from the clear plastic rings that hold the six-packs together. While they are sustainable, we felt like there was a better option and a better way to not only help our brand from a branding perspective but also to help the environment. We have now moved to cardboard wraps and these are much more environmentally friendly and recyclable. It has been a big project for us to literally change the whole way that we are packaging our beer, but again, it is an opportunity for us. We get more of our branding out in front of consumers because they are now looking at a box that is a lot more engaging than a collection of cans. Our vendors have a heightened focus on environmental sustainability as well.
What is the economic impact of the brewery on the local region?
We are employing around 70 people full time in the Tampa Bay area, and we are also employing sales teams all over the country. We are helping impact the local economy by this employment, but also by the amount of beer that we are selling. Because beer is a relatively highly taxed commodity we, along with the rest of the beer community in Tampa Bay, are helping to bring in millions of dollars in tax revenue. This goes directly to our local communities, counties and the state of Florida. Certainly, as one of the larger breweries in the area, we are proud of the direct impact that our brewery is making. At the same time we think the more compelling story is that there are now over 80 breweries in the Tampa Bay area, which is incredible because 10 years ago there were six. Our industry is helping to directly impact the local economy in a meaningful way.
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