State Senators Vincent Hughes and Tim Kearney, U.S. Representatives Mary Gay Scanlon and Brendan Boyle announced today that they have successfully broken down the regulatory barriers preventing more than 130 small craft distilleries in Pennsylvania from producing needed medical supplies such as hand sanitizer, which have all but disappeared from local shelves in recent weeks.
The federal and state lawmakers have worked in tandem with Rob Cassell, a Philadelphia based distillery owner and operator, to coordinate efforts statewide. Scanlon, Boyle, Hughes, and Kearney worked together to:
- Remove regulatory restrictions from the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of the Treasury preventing this transition
- Secure start-up capital to convert these facilities, and supply the necessary ingredients and packaging
“When I learned of the proposal Rob and others had, my team and I immediately began contacting our network for assistance. We are grateful for the folks who have stepped up to make this partnership possible at a moment’s notice,” Senator Hughes said. “This exemplifies the best of us as Pennsylvanians. We have leaders, businesses and investors working together to keep businesses open and employees working, all to produce products to help keep our people safe. This partnership is a great testament to the power of working collectively to solve a major problem for the benefit of all of our communities. There will be more opportunities to replicate this level of commitment. We hope others follow this important example.”
“In times of crisis, we rediscover the creativity and resilience that make us who we are,” Senator Kearney said. “Thanks to the partnership we forged between the public and private sectors, we can unleash the innovation and ingenuity of Pennsylvania’s vibrant distilling industry. Now more than ever, we must come together to turn our challenges into opportunities.”
“In the absence of leadership from the White House to coordinate production of critical supplies to fight the pandemic, local business owners and officials have been stepping up to fill the gaps,” Congresswoman Scanlon said. “We were able to work together to cut the red tape for these folks on the ground who want to do their part to help stem the tide of this unprecedented public health crisis. Mr. Cassell’s energy and leadership on this project has been nothing short of inspiring. He represents the very best of who we are as Americans — coming up with creative solutions and getting things done to help our community.”
“This COVID-19 crisis demands the quick disabling of barriers at all governmental levels that currently stand in the way of assisting the American people,” Congressman Boyle said. “By acting quickly and decisively, and in a bipartisan way on both the Federal and State level, we will help ‘flatten the curve’ of the Coronavirus. It is encouraging to see the speed and efficiency with which this outcome was achieved through tandem efforts from the public and private spheres. I applaud Mr. Cassell for providing his vision and leadership in the private business arena to make this effort successful and I thank the Pennsylvania State Senate members who joined the effort and made this a priority.”
Initial start-up capital for this project was secured through the generosity of private investors, including: David Adelman, CEO of Campus Apartments and Darco Capital, LP; Osagie Imasogie, Senior Managing Partner, PIPV Capital; and Todd Strine, CFO and Owner of Keystone Quality Transport.
“We are faced with an unbelievable health challenge in Pennsylvania and we must do our part to support our communities and first responders during a time of great need,” Cassell said. “I am grateful to Representatives Scanlon and Boyle for their leadership on the federal level and to Senators Hughes and Kearney for coordinating efforts to secure the startup capital needed to get this project off the ground.”
“Whether you’re making 60% ethanol based hand sanitizers to reduce the number of viable pathogens that contaminate hands and surfaces or 0% interest loans to keep the businesses viable that do, we all need to step up to meet the challenges of this virus with creativity, compassion and as a community,” said Adelman, CEO of Campus Apartments and Darco Capital, LP. “I could not be more proud of the work that our state and local leaders are spearheading with local businesses and encourage the cooperation to continue as we all band together to combat this crisis.”
Cassell said today that the first sample could be available as early as Friday.