DADE CITY — Distributing rum and other liquor to locations outside the county makes a west Pasco distillery the kind of industry coveted by economic developers.
The national and international exporting makes the Point Distillery at 11807 Little Road a so-called ''target industry,'' and this week it received a first-of-its-kind loan from Pasco County to expand operations in an area earmarked for redevelopment.
"It's a multimillion-dollar facility. To see them bring this building back to life is great,'' said County Commissioner Jack Mariano.
The building's previous occupants included a different distillery and a winery. It sits on six acres near the southwest corner of State Road 52 and Little Road in west Pasco.
Under an agreement approved Tuesday by Pasco Commissioners, the county will lend the company $53,000 through a Penny-for-Pasco financed redevelopment loan. The company is putting up the remaining 20 percent ($13,255) to buy bottle-labeling equipment that is intended to expand its production capacity by 50 percent. The labeling equipment will be assigned to a high-speed bottling line that can fill up to 60 bottles a minute, the company said.
The county recently created the redevelopment loan program and is testing it within the Harbors Market area in west Pasco that is the focus of a 50-year redevelopment plan. The loans are earmarked for projects "having a general public purpose of improving the local economy,'' according to a memo to commissioners from Economic Growth Manager David H. Engel. Eventually, the redevelopment loans will be available for projects countywide, Engel said.
The Point Distillery LLC formed 11 months ago and began production over the summer. It produces Big 5 Rum and other products.
The plant has three stills that total 2,100 gallons and five 8,000-gallon storage tanks, allowing the company to distill spirits in both large-volume and small-batch quantities. Last summer, the company told commissioners it had agreements with three vodka and two additional brands of rum that retail nationally and had a potential opportunity to export to China, Germany and Europe.
The company's growing business will allow it to exercise a purchase option and acquire the building it is leasing, said Engel.
Contact C.T. Bowen at email@example.com or (813) 435-7306. Follow @CTBowen2.