(Beaver Dam) The City of Beaver Dam is the recipient of a $126,100 state grant to help finance the redevelopment of a vacant building 14,900 square foot lot into a new downtown microbrewery. This is made possible by a Community Development Investment Grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). Renovations of the existing, vacant building and parcel, which had been a used car sales lot, will become a state-of-the-art microbrewery called Ooga (Oogah) Brewing Co.
Redevelopment of the site will provide an anticipated six full-time positions, including a manager, bartenders, service staff and custodial staff. Details about the microbrewery were outlined at an onsite press conference on Tuesday. Deputy secretary and Chief Operating Officer of WEDC Tricia Braun (Brawn) was on hand with other city and business leaders and shared her views on this new opportunity for Beaver Dam stating at WEDC we have three main focus areas, businesses, people, and our communities. This project brings all of those together and is one of the ways where we can help transform the state and make it a place people want to come and stay.
Also present was Beaver Dam’s own Mayor Rebecca Glewen. She praised Jim and Ruth Metz, the owners of Ooga Brewing Company, for making a conscious decision to invest in the downtown district and seizing on the opportunity to make a positive impact on Beaver Dam. She says she hopes other entrepreneurs will follow suite saying that not only does this new business create new employment opportunities, but it converts a space into a contemporary environment where the community can socialize. It also creates excitement in the revitalization of downtown and is a catalyst for future entrepreneurial development in our community.
Owners Jim and Ruth Metz spoke about the scope of work required when investing in an older building to repurpose it for modern use saying that renovations will start soon with them using as many local builders as they can including a stainless steel manufacturer from Watertown so that even the brewing equipment will be from within the state. The goal is to be serving beer by the end of the year.
The Ooga Brewery will carry on the legacy of breweries in Beaver Dam that ended with the closing of the Ziegler Brewery in 1953. City officials believe this project will promote economic development by diversifying the tax base and creating new jobs. The redevelopment should also allow the city to attract new businesses, employers and entrepreneurs to the downtown corridor as well as develop new tourism opportunities.
WEDC’s Community Development Investment Grant Program supports community development and redevelopment efforts, primarily in downtown areas. Since the program’s inception in 2013, WEDC has awarded more than $17 million in Community Development Investment Grants for projects expected to generate more than $233 million in capital investments statewide.