Donaldsonville distillery seeks community connection with crowdfunding campaign

    The Noel Family Distillery is aiming for an early 2020 opening in historic Donaldsonville after issues with a contractor delayed construction. 

    Renovations are now underway inside the distillery, located in a 4,000-square-foot building built in the 1890s along the river, says Natalie Noel, who started the business with her father, Frank “Chip” Noel. The building was formerly home to Louisiana Power & Light utility company.

    Once open, it will be the third distillery in the Capital Region.

    The family launched a crowdfunding campaign Thursday to help raise $20,000 for the nearly million dollar project, which Noel says is to help build hype for the distillery and connect the community to the business. Though they don’t have any major financial backing, Noel says family, friends and farmers have supplied most of the cash for the business. 

    “Other distillers may have just one family, or one huge pocket, backing their project while other places are backed by private equity groups, so the community isn’t involved in it,” Noel says. “To be a true community story, we wanted to invite people to have a hand in helping it sprout up.”

    Having worked in marketing, Noel says she always heard about businesses that launched crowdfunding campaigns, although it was usually to fund a single product, not a whole line of products like the family distillery plans. 

    “We’re not sure if it would work for the process, but it’s a worthwhile experiment,” Noel says. Also, with the property located in an Opportunity Zone, they’ve also created a Qualified Opportunity Fund to help attract larger investors. 

    The Noels aren’t the first Capital Region entrepreneurs to turn to the general public for help finance their vision. Steve and Amber Elworth raised nearly $18,000 on Indiegogo to help fund Lighthouse Coffee, a specialty coffee shop on Lee Drive that gives jobs to displaced people in Baton Rouge.

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