Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin on Monday formally signed into law bills that will expand craft beer sales and provide special funds to promote tourism in the Mountain State.
Introducing the bills, Tomblin called for more support to the craft beer industry, which he said is one of the fastest growing niche markets in West Virginia. There are currently 11 craft breweries around the state, a number that has tripled in the last decade. About 6,000 barrels of beer were produced last year.
Tomblin also said the state would see a return on its investments in tourism as the industry generates more than $5 billion in revenue annually while supporting 46,000 jobs.
The craft beer bill, as it was termed after Tomblin proposed it during his January State of the State address, was sponsored by Senate President Bill Cole and Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler. It received bipartisan support in both legislative chambers, passing the Senate and House 32-2 and 87-11, respectively.
At the signing ceremony, Tomblin also announced a statewide craft beer week from Aug. 15-22.
Tomblin also signed a bill that will increase advertising funding for the state Division of Tourism, allowing the state to promote “Wild, Wonderful West Virginia” in neighboring states, Washington, D.C. and select international markets.
The bill, which passed the Senate and House almost unanimously, sets aside funds solely to be used for marketing, advertising and public relations efforts that promote travel and tourism in West Virginia.
Follow the author on Twitter: @samueljspeciale