Bell’s gets warm reception

ESCANABA – Escanaba will be the site of a new beer manufacturing plant expected to be open by this time next year, announced officials who welcomed the business with open arms Thursday.

Larry Bell, owner of Bell’s Brewery, Inc., located in the Kalamazoo area, has agreed to purchase property in Escanaba’s Whitetail Industrial Park. The company plans to build the “Upper Hand Brewery,” a $2.5 million project. Community leaders are pleased Bell’s chose to expand its business to the Escanaba area.

“Bell’s Brewery is a leader in the beer craft industry,” commented City Manager Jim O’Toole after Thursday’s special council meeting to approve the sale of city property to the company for $30,000. (See related story.)

“This is a big deal in that it increases the potential of attracting other manufacturers and also diversifies our manufacturing base which in turn strengthens it,” added O’Toole.

Vickie Schwab, Delta County Economic Development director, said Bell’s decision to expand business here was the result of a “tremendous collaborative effort” by community members showing that Escanaba is “the best place to be.”

“Brewing beer is part of Escanaba’s proud history and Bell’s Brewery is part of our future,” she told council.

Schwab began working with Bell last year by providing information on possible building sites in the community. After looking at other areas in the region, Bell chose to set up shop here in Escanaba.

Bell said the community support and the location were factors in making that decision. Escanaba provides access to both highways U.S. 41 and M-35, he noted.

Council member Pete Baker told Bell he was glad the business recognizes Escanaba as a distribution point to other destinations in the region.

Mayor Pro Tem Brady Nelson welcomed Bell to the city and said, “We’re glad you’re here… We’re pro business.”

In a press release, Mayor Leo Evans also welcomed the new business to Escanaba saying the brewery will be a “natural fit ” for the area’s emerging craft and wine-making culture.

In the same press release, State Senator Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba) said the company’s investment will be good for the economic growth of the Central U.P. Spin-off jobs could also develop such as local farmers providing resources for the brewery, he added.

Delta County Administrator Nora Viau stated the brewery will contribute to the local economy as a construction site and also as a business.

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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143,