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Turns Out, Uncle Sam Is a Beer Lover

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Someone at the Small Business Administration is thirsty. Over the past three years, the agency has backed 420 loans to 322 small breweries.

The activity is not motivated by a quest for the perfect pilsner. Instead, it's part of a bid by the SBA to support more start-ups in the "creative economy," says Lynn Douthett, district director of the SBA's office in North Carolina, which happens to be a hotbed of craft brewers.

"We have seen a trend in the growth of boutique businesses, like these breweries, that are offering locally crafted products," Douthett says.

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Not only do such businesses create jobs, she adds, but they also spur economic growth by helping form clusters of ancillary businesses.

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Hi-Wire Brewing, based in Asheville, North Carolina, secured an SBA-backed loan for $254,000 to buy the equipment it needed to get started.

"People think of the SBA as this big, bureaucratic agency," says Hi-Wire co-founder Adam Charnack. "But they looked at our situation in a creative way and made our loan happen."

For details on how to start your own brewery--and opportunities in other fast-growing areas, check out this Inc. guide to the Best Industries for Starting a Business.

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