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Cooper toasts craft beer industry

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Gov. Roy Cooper raises a toast at the N.C. Beer Month Proclamation, Tour & Reception on Friday at Rocky Mount Mills.

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By LINDELL JOHN KAY
Staff Writer

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Gov. Roy Cooper signed a state proclamation Friday at Rocky Mount Mills with a pen in one hand and a beer in the other.

In town to kick off Beer Month, Cooper said having a few brews with his hometown friends was one of the most enjoyable days he's had since taking office.

“It's great to hoist a cold one to celebrate the beer industry,” Cooper said. He signed a proclamation marking April in North Carolina as Beer Month.

The proclamation touted craft breweries as a major part of tourism in the state. The $1.2 billion craft beer industry supports 10,000 jobs in North Carolina and has received national recognition for beer brewed with local ingredients like sweet potatoes, blackberries and kumquats.

Cooper told the small crowd of local officials, investors and brewers that he looked forward to knocking back a few beers with them. The governor toured the facilities, watching demonstrations and enjoying watermelon-flavored brew.

Cooper had more fun at the mills than what he's normally dealing with in downtown Raleigh, said Michael Goodman of Capital Broadcasting Co., which is invested in the mills.

Rocky Mount Mills, a 142-year-old factory, is home to seven successful breweries with more on the way. The mills acts as an incubator to help fledgling brewers get their start.

“This is real stuff, real people, real commitment,” Goodman said.

Cooper said when he used to drive past the mills from his home on Gravely Drive to his law office on Sunset Avenue, he envisioned a lot of different possibilities for the mill. None of them included beer.

The mills shows what can be done by North Carolinians when given the opportunity.

“I know the quality of the people here because I'm one of them,” Cooper said.

Cooper said he wants North Carolinians to have more education, better health care, money in their pockets and the opportunity for a more abundant and purposeful life. In order to see that happen, the state needs to invest in education and the economy.

“North Carolina is the place to be, a place for everybody,” Cooper said.

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