DCED’s Davin gets update on microbrewery, incubator projects

Michael Bradwell
Observer Reporter

As secretary of the state Department of Community and Economic Development, Dennis Davin frequently sees the business districts of a lot of towns the size of Washington and even smaller.

Following a brief tour of A&M Wine & Beer Supplies and Washington Winery, as well as the adjacent microbrewery on East Maiden Street that is a work in progress, Davin said he could see the potential the businesses have for the economic well-being of a town.

“These are the types of businesses that make these places interesting,” Davin said during a discussion that followed with co-owners Angela and John Burgess and civic and business leaders.

The Burgesses and Jon and Michele DeFede, owners of the Upper Crust Restaurant, formed a partnership to create Washington Brewing Co. in a former garage at 28 E. Maiden St.

During a tour of the 6,500-square-foot main floor space, John Burgess showed Davin the space in what was once a Studebaker dealership where he expects to be selling craft beer later this summer.

“We’re going to be having events by the end of the year,” he said, adding the basement of the building mirrors the space of the main floor and will be used for events and overflow crowds.

Davin also was updated on plans for the Washington Area Business Incubator, a partnership between Washington & Jefferson College and the Observer-Reporter.

W&J President Tori Haring-Smith said the $2.5 million project, which has received $250,000 in Local Share Account funds and has applied to the state for a $1.2 million Redevelopment Capital Assistance Program grant, said the college has been working on the incubator idea since 2013, when it commissioned a study on its feasibility.

In the ensuing years, she said, with the study confirming its demand locally, the project has won support from the city, the chamber of commerce and numerous businesses and local entrepreneurs.

The Observer-Reporter has offered its former circulation building on South Main Street, as well as its unused pressroom on Strawberry Way, to the college rent-free for 10 years.

“Everything is coming together,” Haring-Smith said. “This is the moment.”

Davin, whose department administers the RCAP grants, said final determination on recipients will come in late June or early July.

“It makes it easier to make a decision when you see the support” for a project, he said.

Davin’s visit Friday was hosted by the Washington County Chamber of Commerce. Earlier in the day, he visited Auma Actuators in Southpointe, PONY Baseball in North Franklin and All-Clad Metalcrafters in Canonsburg.