ATLANTIC CITY — Christopher DeWalt was a laid-off technician praying for “financial creativity” when the idea for a brewery came to him in a dream.

“In this dream, I was standing in front of an industrial warehouse,” DeWalt said Tuesday, standing in a warehouse on Baltic Avenue. “On the side of the building it had my name, ‘DeWalt’ ... but my mind was saying ‘Budweiser.’”

That 2009 dream was the genesis of DeWalt Brewing Co., a brewery founded in Reading, Pennsylvania, in 2014.

DeWalt is now taking that dream to Atlantic City.

The company will relocate its headquarters to the resort after securing more than $1 million in state tax credits over the next decade. It will open its headquarters next door to the Little Water Distillery in the Northeast Inlet, where it plans to brew, bottle and distribute beer. It will also build an outdoor beer garden with a grand opening scheduled for July, DeWalt said.

“Atlantic City is an economy that’s down but on the rebound,” he said.

The brewery is the latest business to be lured to Atlantic City with Grow New Jersey tax credits, which are offered to companies creating or retaining jobs in qualified areas, such as Atlantic City.

Since 2015, the state has given out $55.8 million in tax credits through Grow New Jersey to bring the brewery, South Jersey Gas headquarters, a call center and an air traffic control systems designer to the city, according to Economic Development Authority data. The projects have created or retained an estimated 600 jobs and $50.8 million in investment, according to the EDA.

For DeWalt, the EDA board approved Grow New Jersey tax credits of up to $108,795 annually over 10 years. DeWalt plans to bring 15 employees to the city by the end of the first year and employ 85 to 100 workers after a decade. Its application said the brewery plans to make $286,884 in capital investment.

DeWalt, 50, said his move was contingent on the tax credits and said his financial adviser recommended Atlantic City, in part, because of the state incentives. The adviser told DeWalt he would get more tax credits in less time if he moved to the city than if he applied for similar credits for a Reading, Pennsylvania, location.

DeWalt credited Mayor Don Guardian, city Planning & Development Director Elizabeth Terenik, Atlantic County Improvement Authority Economic Development Director Max Slusher and Bill Lowenstein, the city’s small-business loan consultant, with helping him through the tax-credit process.

“Getting state funding is not an easy deal for anyone, but Atlantic City made the pain much easier to deal with because they were there every step of the way,” he said.

After four casinos closed in 2014, Gov. Chris Christie successfully urged lawmakers to make the city the fifth Garden State Growth Zone, qualifying it for maximum tax incentives. Atlantic City had previously been exempted from many urban redevelopment programs because of casino revenue.

EDA CEO Melissa Orsen said project approvals in Atlantic City show the program is “doing exactly what the legislation was intended to do” by creating investment and jobs “in areas of the state where it is needed most.”

Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo, D-Atlantic, who sponsored the law, said as Atlantic City transitions into a nongaming resort destination, “we will continue to attract companies like DeWalt under the Grow New Jersey program who want to be a part of Atlantic City’s resurgence.”

Not everyone agrees with the state subsidies. In July, New Jersey Policy Perspective, a left-leaning think tank, said the special tax breaks cost the state much-needed revenue while doing “little to move the economic needle or grow good jobs.” The state has approved more than $7 billion in the tax breaks since 2010.

Guardian said the brewery’s move is exciting, especially since it will be next to Little Water Distillery, which had a packed crowd for its grand opening over the weekend.

“I think it becomes the cool place in the city,” Guardian said. “It’s the perfect match.”

The brewery currently has three beers — a German-style lager, an India pale ale and a mixed berry apple cider, according to its website. DeWalt plans to reveal three more recipes when it moves to the city.

Contact: 609-272-7215 Twitter @_Hetrick

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

PLEASE BE ADVISED: Soon we will no longer integrate with Facebook for story comments. The commenting option is not going away, however, readers will need to register for a FREE site account to continue sharing their thoughts and feedback on stories. If you already have an account (i.e. current subscribers, posting in obituary guestbooks, for submitting community events), you may use that login, otherwise, you will be prompted to create a new account.

Load comments