PCDC Loan Helps Secure Downtown Brewery Project

8 Mar 2017

Lost Way Brewery is the first recipient of the Phelps County Development Corporation’s new Building Improvement Program.

Lost Way owners Mark and Jessica Kraus and Jason and Kimberly Hines have purchased a building at 614 Third Ave. in downtown Holdrege and are renovating the 4,000-square-foot former Sunglow Dairy into a thriving brewery and tasting room that has the potential to attract craft beer lovers from around the world. 

Jason and Kimberly moved to Holdrege three years ago for his job as a Quality Engineer at BD. He encouraged his brother-in-law Mark, a former Marine officer, to also move to Nebraska. Mark found a job as a Team Leader at BD and moved here with Jessica 2½ years ago.

Both families fell in love with the community (also encouraging Mark and Kimberly’s parents and another sister to move to the area) and hope their dream of opening a brewery will spark other new entertainment options and businesses in downtown Holdrege.

“Holdrege is great, but there’s not a whole lot going on downtown,” Jason said. “We are hoping to jump start that.”

Mark, 33, has had an interest in craft beer since graduating from college and began learning to brew about 5 ½ years ago and loved it.

“When we came to Holdrege, one of the first things we did was drive around and figure out where we wanted to put a brewery,” Mark said. “What we envisioned was a family-friendly gathering place where we could teach people about brewing and teach people about the different styles of beer.”

They will also hope to create and sell their own pop for kids, too.

Jason, who is also 33, said the brewery will have couches and board games and be a relaxing and family-friendly atmosphere.

“It’s more of an experience than just going to the bar and having a beer,” he said.

Both Jason and Mark are grateful for the gap-financing loan and other help they received through PCDC.

“Working in Holdrege, Nebraska, on a brewery, there’s not a whole lot of experience in the banking area with that,” Mark said. “There’s risk that they don’t totally understand. Being able to get that loan just shores up their confidence because we’ve got someone else on the hook as well that’s willing to be a partner.”

PCDC Project Coordinator Alli Donohue said the Building Improvement Program provides successful applicants with a low-interest loan (half the market rate with a minimum of 2 percent) for up to 10 years to help local entrepreneurs who want to make improvements on buildings they own. Improvements may include renovations, replacing windows or sidewalks, upgrading parking or other exterior enhancements.

Donohue said PCDC fills the “gap” between what a bank will loan and what is needed to improve the building.

The applicant must first apply for a USDA Energy Efficiency Grant and provide 10 percent equity into the project. PCDC’s loan cannot be more than 50 percent of the total project cost.

This idea for this loan program originated during the Prosperity Project II campaign and is funded through LB840 sales tax funds approved by taxpayers in 2015.

Mark and Jason said PCDC also helped the Lost Way couples find a building for their brewery and has been a valuable resource for the start-up company.

“They are one of the most important contacts we’ve had,” Mark said of PCDC.

“If people are doing a project and they aren’t going in there (to PCDC) for assistance, they are doing something wrong,” Jason said.

It will likely be the winter of 2017-18 before the brewery can open. It takes on average seven months for federal licensing to be approved, and then there are state and local requirement to meet on top of the renovation work on the building.

“Be patient with us,” Jason said. “It’s a long process, but we are going to try to do it as quickly as we can, and we are going try to keep everyone involved.”

To stay up to date on Lost Way’s progress, follow them on Facebook or Instagram.

For more information about PCDC’s Building Improvement Loan, contact Alli at 995-4148 or Alli@PhelpsCountyNE.com. For more information about this loan and other grants and loans available to local businesses, visit http://www.phelpscountyne.com/phelps/about-us/go!-programs.