Last month Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that KAS Spirits, a family-owned small business in Mahopac, was awarded a $5,000 New York State Empire State Development Grant. The funds will be used to invest in equipment and grow the three-year-old craft liquor company.
“We have been fortunate that there has been a demand for our krupnikas, which is a Lithuanian honey liquor,” said KAS Spirits owner Kestutis J. Katinas who is more commonly known as “Kas.” “However, we are not able to meet all of the demand because we do not have the extra funds needed to invest in additional equipment. The grant money will help us purchase the material we need.”
Currently Katinas and his wife, Maruska, produce, bottle and label each batch of the secret family recipe by hand. The ability to create a greater quantity of KAS will potentially allow Katinas to hire more employees.
KAS Spirits was one of two projects chosen from Putnam County through the NYS Consolidated Funding Application to be funded. It was also the only for-profit small business to be allocated state money from the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council (REDC), which develops the long-term strategic plans for economic growth in Putnam, Westchester, Rockland, Dutchess, Orange, Sullivan and Ulster counties.
“I am very excited to be the first distillery in Putnam County to receive money through the CFA process,” said Katinas. “I am thankful for The Greater Mahopac-Carmel Chamber of Commerce for letting me know about the funding opportunity available through the state and encouraging me to go for it. I am also grateful to the Hudson Valley Food and Beverage Alliance for their help with the application.”
Katinas found out about the funding opportunity by attending a workshop hosted by The Greater Mahopac-Carmel Chamber of Commerce and the REDC last May.
“Our job as a chamber of commerce is to promote economic development, educate business owners about resources that might be available to them and connect our members with local, state and federal officials for support,” said Chamber CEO Erin Meagher. “KAS Spirits winning a state grant shows what can happen when everything comes together. Congratulations to Kas and Maruska.”
State Sen. Terrence Murphy threw his support behind the KAS Spirits application.
“As a small business owner myself, I recognize all of the effort that Kas and his wife Maruska put forth and how just a little bit of help can help you achieve a new level of success,” said Murphy. “The craft distillery industry is growing in New York and this grant will not only assist KAS Spirits it will act as a catalyst to stimulate economic development in Putnam County.”
Carmel Town Supervisor Ken Schmitt agreed that the grant could extend its reach beyond KAS Spirits.
“Businesses in the Town of Carmel are primarily mom and pop companies that work together and grow together,” said Schmitt. “KAS Spirits has become a valued drink in the Town of Carmel and its popularity has benefited other companies in the area. It is sold by local stores such as Sterling Cellars and Grapevine of Carmel and is used by neighborhood restaurants such as Dish Bistro and Wine Bar. As KAS Spirits continues to grow, through the help of the state grant, it will be an ambassador of Mahopac and the Town of Carmel and people will find out more about what we have to offer.”
With KAS Spirits being awarded the grant, County Executive MaryEllen Odell hopes that other businesses learn the importance of taking the time to apply for resources.
“We as taxpayers, pay more of our share to Albany than we get back,” said Odell. “We have a right to apply for funds when they are available. If we don’t submit our projects for consideration how can we expect to reap the benefits? I am proud of Kas for taking the chance and I congratulate him on KAS Spirits continued success.”
Since 2011, grants through New York State Empire State Development are available annually through the NYS Consolidated Funding Application, which was created to streamline and expedite the grant application process by ensuring less bureaucracy and greater efficiency to fulfill local economic development needs. In the past the application window has run from May to July. The specific dates for the application in 2017 have not been announced yet.