February 19, 2020

Senator Hassan Holds Wide-Ranging Discussion with North Country Business Leaders at Schilling Beer Company in Littleton

LITTLETON – Senator Maggie Hassan visited Schilling Beer Company yesterday, where she held a roundtable discussion about some of the most pressing issues facing small businesses in the North Country. Participants at the roundtable included state, regional, and local business leaders, such as Benoit Lamontagne of the NH Division of Economic Development; Jeff Cozzens, owner of Schilling Beer Company and President of the NH Brewers Association; Marlaina Renton, owner of Rek’-Lis Brewing Company in Bethlehem; and Rusty Talbot, owner of Littleton Climbing Center.


Senator Hassan is focused on supporting craft breweries in New Hampshire and across the country, and worked to successfully extend tax cuts for the craft beverage industry in the recent bipartisan government funding agreement. She is also a cosponsor of the bipartisan Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, which would permanently extend the reduction in excise taxes for craft breweries while also cutting red tape and streamlining outdated, burdensome federal regulations that hold businesses back.


Jeff Cozzens started off the discussion saying, “I'd like to make a toast to Senator Hassan for her work on behalf of the state's brewers, thank you for your advocacy and everything that you've done down in Washington to support us.”


Senator Hassan discussed the importance of workforce development, saying, “I continue to hear about workforce challenges not only here but throughout the state.” She discussed her efforts in Congress to address this issue, including her bipartisan Gateway to Careers Act that would support career pathway strategies, which combine work, education, and support services, to help individuals earn recognized postsecondary credentials.


During the discussion, Senator Hassan heard about a wide variety of issues, including the importance of promoting more environmentally sustainable business models in the North Country. For instance, Marliana Renton talked about her desire to better connect the outdoor lifestyle of the North Country with her business model by making Rek’-Lis Brewing more environmentally friendly, and addressed the need for greater support, saying that “there isn't a lot incentive or money to try to implement those [sustainable] systems within your brewery." 


Senator Hassan also heard from Rusty Talbot about the important connection between the North Country’s outdoor recreation industry, craft breweries, and the retention of young people in the region. “There's a part of me - my entire day job - which is all about the outdoor rec industry, and then there's another part of me which is about ok how do we continue to grow this community, and it's been really cool in this short period of time seeing that, for example, Bethlehem is the only town in the state that is actually getting younger [...] and that's because of the lifestyle and the community, and how they interact and outdoor recreation is a big part of that, this amazing beer is a big part of that,” said Talbot.


Another major topic of discussion was the importance of expanding broadband in the North Country, which is critical to attracting businesses and drawing more young people into the region. Senator Hassan recently introduced two bipartisan bills with Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) to help states, cities, and towns spur investment in rural broadband projects. The bills complement ongoing efforts in New Hampshire to provide local governments with innovative financing options for broadband projects, giving states and localities additional tools to promote rural broadband investment.