As the craft beer market exploded during the last 10 years, creating an abundance of breweries and copious amounts of flavors, Kevin Thomas, CEO of 3 Mavins beer, saw a middle ground with untapped potential. An avid beer lover and traveler, Thomas and his wife, Maja, always enjoyed trying local beers at every destination they visited. But it was a night of barhopping in Columbus, Ohio, that cemented the idea of crafting a beer brand for the average consumer who is unmoved by commercial beer brands yet finds craft beers too rich for their liking. After sampling some beers they liked and disliked, the idea to craft a beer brand that would appeal to a broader audience began to percolate. "Ultimately, you could say all great ideas come after a night of drinking," he says jokingly. "We believe we're like the average consumer. We kind of find ourselves in the middle ground and we think that there's a market between the Bud Light drinkers and the craft beer connoisseurs that's largely unaddressed, and we fall in that market. We wanted to combine ingredients and flavors that we really liked to sort of bring out a sweeter flavor profile in the lager than what customers would traditionally get in stores." While the idea to start a new product grew over a night of sipping beers from a series of barstools, the process of crafting the concoction involved lots of legwork. After nearly eight months of researching different styles, ingredients and brewing methods, 3 Mavins' amber lager was born. "We believe we can create something that caters to us and people like us to create that middle-ground product that anyone can enjoy," he says, "whether you're a craft-beer drinker and a beer connoisseur, or you're just that average everyday consumer who grabs a six-pack of Bud Light because it's familiar and you know what it's like." After developing their first beer out of their Fort Lauderdale kitchen, Thomas and his wife had to determine the best way to get the product into the hands of consumers. Because of restrictions in Florida for alcohol, a business-to-business plan emerged: Thomas knew he couldn't scale his brand properly without help from well-known establishments—spaces where consumers could actually purchase the beer. So, the idea to collaborate with other businesses as a beer contractor and have them sell their beer brand allowed 3 Mavins to establish a presence in South Florida and around the state.

The final installment of SFBW's three-part Virtual Connect series recently concluded with a discussion on how private and government entities can ensure equal transportation access to all South Florida residents. The "Virtual Connect: Social Equity and Transportation" forum was moderated by Anthony Abbate, professor at Florida Atlantic's school of architecture. Abbate was joined by Greg Stuart, executive director of the Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization and U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, who has served Florida's 22nd congressional district since 2010. Deutch joined the panel from Washington, D.C., where he was in the middle of debating the Build Back Better bill to provide funding for infrastructure needs across America. Serving Constituencies Abbate: This is our final installment in the series. And it's going to be an interesting one. We have a guest speaker today from Washington, D.C., Rep. Ted Deutch. Congressman Deutch has proven himself to be an energetic advocate for the priorities of his constituents here in South Florida. His priorities in the 117th Congress include promoting economic opportunity in South Florida and fighting for full equality and equity for all. And we will be featuring Greg Stuart, who is the executive director of the Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization, which spans two transportation districts and 33 local governments. Greg brings more than 32 years of experience working in both the private and public sector, as public sector experience includes progressively responsible management at the municipal, county and state levels. Greg is focused on land use transportation and environmental planning, which are all intertwined. He has secured millions of dollars in federal appropriations for major transportation projects, modified state rules to facilitate traffic mitigation and stimulated redevelopment efforts in helping to implement a dynamic water reuse project as well. Greg's private sector experience includes component manufacturing, logistics, zoning and land use. South Florida, as we all know, is experiencing a boom as companies moved their headquarters and employees when they decided to relocate here. Today, we're going to explore the region's transportation infrastructure and its capacity to provide affordable and flexible options for access to employment and to all the other things we use transportation for. This is the final installment in our series focusing on the Broward Metropolitan Planning organization's “Vision 2100,” which calls for paradigm shifts to address our growing population, the increasing cost of transportation and housing, limited access, climate change, funding and revenue challenges. Welcome, Congressman. We're pleased to have you joining our panel. You're up there and we're really keen on hearing what's happening in Washington. Deutch: I'm thrilled to be able to join you only for a few minutes because what you're talking about is so clearly important for the future of our community. Abbate: Thank you, Congressman. I'm going to open it up to some questions from our audience. The first question is, are there alternative modes of mass transportation being considered in the infrastructure bill? Deutch: The infrastructure bill makes this the first really significant investment in rail in decades. That's going to be a real important piece that the bipartisan bill tackles infrastructure more generally and in lots of the existing types of mass transit. The piece of legislation also recognizes that if we're going to be investing in transit, we can't make those investments without also considering the impact on climate. And so the investment in “green” school buses and public transportation, electric vehicles, obviously, the infrastructure plan makes a major investment in the grid, ultimately increasing the number of car charging stations. All of that is significant. And while it's not specifically a legislative piece of transportation, in terms of mass transit, I think that there's going to be a lot of opportunities to use those investments in the grid as we see more self-driving cars and other types of innovations move forward. Abbate: How do we tie affordable housing to transportation to avoid the increase in rent and or ownership? Deutch: Well, it's a really important question that I think a lot of us would have answered that question maybe a little bit differently two years ago than we do today. The sort of the knee-jerk reaction is that we have, and this is right, we have to make sure that people are able to get from where they work where they live, to where they work, affordably. There are significant investments, as I've talked about, but in terms of affordable housing and working, the moment that we're in now coming out of the pandemic has highlighted one of the really significant disparities that affects the work-life balance and affordable housing, and that's access to broadband. You can't participate remotely if you don't have access to high-speed internet. And that's why we're making such a significant investment in high-speed internet so that people won't be forced to move and then incur higher commuting expenses. That's going to have a direct impact on people's ability to do work and do their jobs without seeing skyrocketing housing costs. Abbate: Thank you. We have a couple more questions here. And they keep coming in, which is great. Can you share some transportation infrastructure initiatives that will impact Broward County? And how? Deutch: Well, yes, from the funding that's in the legislation and when we did the safe streets and the investments, the money set aside for resilience. We've been through some specific streetscape issues in the original bill that we're going to have to work to make sure we get funded from the larger pool of money that comes from the legislation that we're going to pass this week. All of that will be able to impact earnings, but I don't have specific projects. That's going to be something that develops as we go forward. But the ability for Broward to tap into funding—in particular, the new modes of transportation, the ability to invest more in charging stations, building out the grid throughout the entire county, making sure that everyone has access to the fastest internet—all of that will be beneficial.