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Industry Experts, Business Leaders: Michigan’s Alcohol System is Strong, Pro-Growth

LANSING – Michigan’s existing system of alcohol regulations and safeguards has helped manufacturers, distributors and retailers in the beer and wine sectors succeed economically while balancing public safety and health priorities, panelists at a Center for Alcohol Policy (CAP) forum said today.

Jim Hall, CAP Advisory Council member and former chair of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, credited Michigan’s forward-looking system of alcohol regulations with driving the growth of the local beer and wine industries, opening new markets and creating value.

Today, Michigan is home to more than 90 craft brewers, ranking the state fifth nationally. Michigan is also home to 178 wineries (ranking it eighth nationally), 130 distributors (sixth nationally) and more than 16,200 retail outlets for beer and wine.  Altogether, the alcohol industry employs nearly 40,000 people statewide and has an economic impact of more than $5 billion each year.

“The alcohol industry in America is strong – and here in Michigan, you are a leader in creating jobs and economic impact,” Hall said.

The forum, “The Economic Impact of the Alcohol Industry in Michigan,” was the first of the CAP’s 2012 Michigan Alcohol Policy Series and featured presentations by Michigan’s leading craft brewer, Larry Bell, founder and CEO of Bell’s Brewery; Auday Arabo, president and CEO of Associated Food & Petroleum Dealers, representing more than 3,000 large and small retailers in Michigan; Mike Brown, partner at Carlin Edwards Brown, PLLCEd O’Keefe III, president of Chateau Grand Traverse Winery; and Mike Lashbrook, president of the Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association, which represents nearly 60 family-owned beer and wine distributors.

Bell said the growth of Michigan’s domestic craft beer sector is the result of hard work, innovation, entrepreneurship – and a system that allows small brewers to compete on a level playing field with large producers.

That framework, also known as the three-tier system, requires alcohol producers to sell their products to independent, licensed distributors, who then sell the products to individual retailers such as grocery and liquor stores.

“The three-tier system in Michigan provides for a level playing field and allows small brewers to get their products to market,” Bell told the audience.

Today, Bell’s Brewery is the 14th largest craft beer producer in the nation, producing more than 240,000 barrels a year. Bell said Michigan’s craft beer sector is also driving tourism through craft beer festivals and sports and arts sponsorships.

According to O’Keefe, Michigan’s wine industry is also experiencing tremendous growth, with 590,000 cases of wine sold in Michigan in 2011 (up from 334,000 cases in 2005).

Arabo said Michigan’s regulations have found the right balance between meeting the needs of businesses and the need to protect public health and safety.

“Michigan is the best of both worlds,” Arabo said. “From a retailer standpoint, it is a very good system.”

While he voiced support for updating an overly cumbersome licensing process in Michigan that dates back decades, Arabo cautioned against changes that impact public health and people’s safety – including possible proposals to increase the number of alcohol licenses.

“Just because you have more licenses, doesn’t mean you will have more sales,” Arabo said. “At the end of the day, we are all parents, grandparents, members of our community – and we have to be responsible. We’re not selling milk, eggs or bread. We’re selling alcohol.”

Session Two of the series, “Public Safety and Law Enforcement in Alcohol Regulation,” will take place Wednesday, April 18, 2012; and Session Three of the series, “What’s Happening in the World of Alcohol Regulation,” will take place Thursday, May 3, 2012.  All sessions will be held at the Radisson Hotel in Lansing.

Download the full Session One presentation here.

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The Center for Alcohol Policy is a 501c(3) organization whose mission is to educate policy makers, regulators and the public about alcohol, its uniqueness and regulation.  By conducting sound and scientific-based research and implementing initiatives that will maintain the appropriate state-based regulation of alcohol, the Center promotes safe and responsible consumption, fights underage drinking and drunk driving and informs key entities about the effects of alcohol consumption.  For more information, visit www.centerforalcoholpolicy.org or follow the Center on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AlcoholPolicy.

 

 

New York Attorney Wins First Place in Center for Alcohol Policy Fourth Annual Essay Contest

ALEXANDRIA, VA – The Center for Alcohol Policy is pleased to announce that Laura Napoli, an attorney from New York, New York, is the winner of its Fourth Annual Essay Contest.  Napoli’s essay, “A Regulatory Roadmap: The Importance of Toward Liquor Control to Modern Alcohol Policy,” outlines how Toward Liquor Control explains why today’s state alcohol regulatory systems developed the way they did and provided a blueprint for many of the alcohol regulatory systems that are in place today.

Toward Liquor Control is the result of a study commissioned by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. in 1933, which provided a blueprint for states to follow when determining their alcohol regulatory systems following Prohibition.  The Center republished the previously out-of-print book in 2011 to provide those interested in effective state-based alcohol regulation with a historical perspective and an understanding of why the system remains important today.

“The authors of Toward Liquor Control realized that national Prohibition simply could not function effectively in the America they knew,” Napoli’s essay states.  “They understood that one of the main causes of Prohibition’s failure was the national government’s imposition of a blanket viewpoint on a nation made up of very diverse people.  The authors therefore advised that future alcohol policies be developed based on a smaller set of viewpoints – for example, taking the views of all people in a given state or community into account.”

“Arguably the most important lesson Toward Liquor Control gives us today is to ‘keep it local,’” Napoli concludes.

Ryan Lozar, an attorney from San Diego, California, was named the second place winner in this year’s contest.  Jeremy Carp, an undergraduate student at Macalester College, and Ashley Watkins, a law student at Duke University, tied for third place.

The winning entrants receive prizes of $5,000, $2,500 and $1,000 respectively.

The contest is intended to foster debate, analysis and examination of state alcohol regulation. The topic of the 2011 contest was “The Importance of Toward Liquor Control to Modern Alcohol Policy.”

Toward Liquor Control reminds readers of the challenges associated with alcohol sales and consumption before Prohibition and how today’s state-based regulatory system was established to encourage responsible alcohol consumption and promote competition while maintaining public health and safety,” said CAP Advisory Council member and Samford University Cumberland School of Law Professor Brannon Denning. “This year’s essay contest gave citizens from across our country the opportunity to study this publication and provide their insights on how many of the issues addressed in Toward Liquor Control still face policymakers today.”

The book Toward Liquor Control can be purchased online at www.centerforalcoholpolicy.org.  It is also available as an iBook through Apple’s iBookstore, a NOOK book from Barnes and Noble and other popular e-book formats.

To read the winning essays, please visit http://www.centerforalcoholpolicy.org/essay-contest.

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 The Center for Alcohol Policy is a 501 c(3) organization whose mission is to educate policy makers, regulators and the public about alcohol, its uniqueness and regulation.  By conducting sound and scientific-based research and implementing initiatives that will maintain the appropriate state-based regulation of alcohol, the Center promotes safe and responsible consumption, fights underage drinking and drunk driving and informs key entities about the effects of alcohol consumption.  For more information, visit www.centerforalcoholpolicy.org or follow the Center on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AlcoholPolicy.


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Center for Alcohol Policy
1101 King Street Ste 600-A Alexandria, VA 22314
Phone: (703) 519-3090 info@centerforalcoholpolicy.org