North Carolina Economic Development Guide


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MIKE BELLEME a remarkable entrepreneurial success story,��� says Dale Carroll, N.C. Department of Commerce deputy secretary and chief operating of���cer. Sierra Nevada���s decision has North Carolina���s economic-development leaders and legislators lifting their glasses. The privately held company will invest nearly $108 million and create about 100 jobs in Henderson County. ���You���ll be able to get a beer from there by the end of 2013,��� says Bill Manley, Sierra Nevada���s product-development and communications manager. In luring the environmentally minded brewer, Mills River bested some 200 sites that were considered. While the effort to recruit Sierra Nevada technically fell under the category of beverage production and distribution, its arrival will mean more than just a new plant. ���It will become a tourist destination,��� Carroll says. Like many wineries ��� and Sierra Nevada���s home in Chico ��� the brewery will have its own tasting room, eatery and gift shop and serve as a venue for live entertainment. Fierce competition often takes place when marquee companies wave job-rich expansion plans. Tennessee and Virginia made powerful pitches, and sites in those states made the company���s short list. ���The same elements that make them attractive to us,��� Carroll says, ���made them attractive to other states.��� The company���s popularity has increased with the emergence of a consumer market that has elevated beer to an American art form. Gone is the 1970s working-class beer ethos, with its limited range of feeble, industrial brews ���owing from drab factories. The nation���s current obsession with beer is more akin to the rise of California wine in the 1980s ��� with some of the same social trappings and even a bit of its pretension. Ken Grossman and Paul Camusi founded Sierra Nevada in 1980, assembling their brewery from a hodgepodge of second-hand dairy tanks, soft-drink bottling machines and equipment salvaged from shuttered beer-makers. The result was a microbrewery with a memorable product: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Using premium ingredients and a generous quantity of hops, it became a brand that resonated with West Coast consumers. The company now makes a number of lagers and ales, including seasonal offerings. All possess depth and body that lend themselves more to relaxed sipping than frenzied chugalugs. ���Our beers are famous for being bold-���avored,��� Manley says. ���We���re proud of the fact our beer is something you really want to sit down and contemplate.��� Challenge: A state law would have kept Chico, Calif.-based Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. from building the East Coast brewery it wanted in North Carolina. Solution: Legislators moved quickly to rewrite the law, locking up the brewery for Henderson County and opening the door for two more nearby. North Carolina Economic Development Guide 29

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