North Carolina Economic Development Guide

2013

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Mike BelleMe search by reaching out to contacts from a list it had cultivated during 70 years of advising companies on location strategies. Among them were N.C. Commerce Department offcials. ���Our initial inquiries covered a pretty wide swath.��� As sites were crossed off the list, it appeared those in North Carolina were being dropped from consideration. The project was ready to go to either southwest Virginia or eastern Tennessee, but company offcials were reluctant to pull the trigger. Then Schjeldahl had a chance encounter at a sustainable-energy conference in Oklahoma that reignited interest in western North Carolina. He met Matt Raker, vice president of Fletcher-based AdvantageWest Economic Development Group. Raker���s duties include directing AdvantageGreen, a program that brings together economic development and environmental management across the private-public partnership���s 23 counties in western North Carolina. ���Don approached him about the project,��� AdvantageWest President and CEO Scott Hamilton says. ���We immediately jumped on it.��� AdvantageWest asked member counties to suggest sites that ft Schjeldahl���s parameters. Six counties responded with 15 possibilities. The organization then invited Schjeldahl for a two-day visit to view 11 of the sites and meet with economic developers and county leaders. AdvantageWest served as a one-stop shop, Schjeldahl says, handling logistics, organizing conference calls and following up on his requests for additional details. ���AdvantageWest has a strong presence in the region and a deep understanding of its economic-development landscape.��� When it comes to making beer, western North Carolina, specifcally Asheville, stands on high ground. The city and region have become a magnet for brewers. Asheville proudly wears its title of Beer City USA, which it won in an online poll posted by Charlie Papazian, founder of the Brewers Association, for the fourth consecutive time in 2012, sharing its latest with Grand Rapids, Mich. The Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce says the city has more breweries per resident than anywhere in the U.S. ��� one for every 8,000 people. The Asheville Brewers Alliance counts more than 15 members, including Highland Brewing Co., which was started in 1994 by engineer-turned-brewer Oscar Wong, who claims it was the frst legal ���We had a list of quantifable things we wanted. But we had a qualitative list as well, and it was longer.��� North Carolina Economic Development Guide 31

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