By Joseph Ditzler

The Bulletin

Prineville, Sunriver and Redmond have them. Bend, of course, has many.

Madras, however, has none. Of 36 breweries in Central Oregon, not one brewpub or brewery is located within the city limits, and the Madras Redevelopment Commission wants to change that.

The commission approved an $8,400 contract Oct. 4 with Every Idea Marketing, a Bend firm, to produce materials for a campaign to attract a brewpub or brewery to town.

“Very generally, we get professional, high-quality marketing material that we can share (with) anyone interested in opening a brewery in Madras,” said Nick Snead, Madras community development director.

A community survey conducted as part of an urban renewal plan in Madras several years ago identified the No. 1 priority as bringing a department store to the city, Snead said. “Recruiting a brewery is the second most important project in the action plan, based on community feedback,” he said.

The city has no site identified. To qualify for city incentives, a project must be located inside the urban renewal district, basically the commercial core of Madras around U.S. Highway 97. Incentives consist of cash grants, like those paid at the time to the developers of the Inn at Cross Keys Station and the Madras Cinema 5, said Janet Brown, the Economic Development for Central Oregon representative for Madras.

“If we had somebody come in the door tomorrow, we’re all ready to roll,” Brown said Tuesday.

A downtown brewpub would serve as a catalyst for other businesses to locate there, Snead said.

And the city is ready to work with a prospective brewer to find a place to locate, he and Brown said. “A healthy downtown creates a place for people to work and live,” Brown said.

However, craft brewing is experiencing a slowdown in growth, even in Oregon. Four or five breweries close every year in the Beaver State, a rate of about 2 percent, according to Josh Lehner, an economist with the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis. Even so, that’s a closure rate much lower than the 9 percent for leisure and hospitality businesses across the U.S., he wrote in a Sept. 8 blog post.

“Clearly we’re not there yet,” Lehner wrote, “and not even that close.”

Madras, population 6,729, has several advantages that mitigate against that risk, said proponents of bringing a brewpub to downtown. One, it has good quality water, the essential ingredient to good beer, said Brown and Snead. It also has capacity in its municipal water treatment system to handle a brewery wastewater outflow, they said. Two, it’s close to growers of grain for malt, and fruits, vegetables and beef for pub kitchens, said Seth Klann, co-owner of nearby Mecca Grade Estate Malt. Klann was part of a small group that Snead said he assembled last year to define Madras as a place for brewers to do business.

“I don’t know why a brewer isn’t established here already,” Klann said Tuesday. “We’re unique in that we have all the local ingredients; it could be 100 percent locally sourced and we could capitalize on that.”

In addition to contracting with Every Idea Marketing, Snead said the commission also paid Pratt Rather, co-founder of GoodLife Brewing Co., and Doug Ellenberger, of Everybody’s Brewing brewpub, in White Salmon, Washington, as consultants. Every Idea is expected to produce a marketing brochure in digital and print formats, a web page and news releases for use by the commission. A representative of Every Idea did not return a call seeking comment. Snead said he expected Every Idea to deliver the materials within a month.

A Madras brewpub would likely attract tourists on their way to other Central Oregon destinations, according to a fact sheet the commission prepared. But the local demand itself is underserved, Brown said.

“We’re not saturated” with breweries or brewpubs, she said. “The other communities are saturated. We have customers; we’re blue collar. The customers are there, we’re just waiting for the doors to open.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7815,