The New Belgium Effect: Becoming Little Fort Collins

New Belgium didn't just bring its beer to Asheville, but it also brought its connections and people which is really boosting our community.  In fact, you might say we're becoming little Fort Collins.

When did it start? 2008:

New Belgium's owner, Kim Jordan, recently stated that they began exploring Asheville back in 2008.
"Jordan said New Belgium started exploring an Asheville location in 2008." (Click for Source)
Asheville on Bikes Benefits:
In 2010, New Belgium made its presence known in Asheville when it launched its first annual Clips of Faith Beer and Film Tour, the proceeds of which get donated to a local nonprofit.  Because of New Belgium's support of cycling, they chose Asheville on Bikes who received $2,376 in 2010. No information for how much they've received since then but they now co-sponsor the event with New Belgium who has contributed to them each year since.

Media Benefits
But, we've also benefited from the Fort Collins connection in our media.  In early 2014, we welcomed Josh Awtry, Editor in Chief of our Asheville Citizen-Times.  Prior to this stint, he was the Executive Editor of the Fort Collins paper, The Coloradoan, where he had been since December 2011. So, he was used to writing about New Belgium way before he got here. That was one subject he didn't need to familiarize himself with.
“My family and I have a deep love for Fort Collins, and leaving this community was a tough call that involved a large share of sleepless nights and long conversations,” Awtry said. “As those who live here know, this is a pretty special place, and I’ve enjoyed every minute, every community event, every revolution of my bike tire.” (Click for Source)
Not only that, but Mr. Awtry even dedicated two full-time beer reporters! (Click for Source). See comment below for update from Mr. Awtry who claims this did not end up happening.

Local Businesses and Leaders Benefit
The New Belgium effect has also been positive for our local leaders, actually helping to save Brownie Newman's company, FLS Energy, a solar power company, where he is Vice President of Development.  In 2013 FLS Energy was suffering and having to lay off employees.
"FLS's explosive growth came with debt, and 2013 had a rocky start with slowing revenues, Freudenberger said. After growing to around 65 employees, the company has scaled back with attrition and layoffs." (Click for Source)
However, in early 2014, they received a $30 Million investment from four private investment firms, one of which is Vision Ridge Partners based in Boulder CO (1 hr from Fort Collins).  (Click for Source)

New Belgium and Vision Ridge have shared interests in renewable energies and often donate the same exact amounts to PACs in Colorado, serve on the same committees and participate in the same conferences.  Kim Jordan, the New Belgium CEO and Vision Ridge even participated in the same conference last year.  Perhaps New Belgium's confidence in Asheville and FLS Energy (since they conduct all of their Leadership Roundtable meetings in the FLS Energy Board Room) helped other Colorado investment companies see the future in Asheville.  Now that Brownie Newman is a Buncombe County Commissioner and will be dolling out over $7 million in funding to New Beligum over the next year, we hope they appreciate the use of his board room even more. In addition, Brownie is a member of the Asheville Riverfront Redevelopment Commission which also controls the plans impacting New Belgium.

Heck, even Brownie's Alma Mater, Warren Wilson College, had the privilege of having Kim Jordan be their 2015 commencement speaker.  (Click to read). The love is definitely going around.

In fact, FLS Energy was at many of the preliminary discussion meetings with New Belgium when they were discussing Asheville as their new site according to this Citizen-Times article (however, no mention was made whether or not it was Brownie at these dinners or not):

Alternative energy is important to New Belgium, which already boasts Colorado’s largest photovoltaic array and uses wind energy to power and cool the servers for its data center.
FLS Energy, of course, came into the long conversations city supporters had with the New Belgium search team. The homegrown solar company has been named the 46th fastest-growing firm in the nation.
In fact, most of the innovative business leaders around town had a chance to meet and talk with the Fort Collins crews during their many meals at The Market Place and at the Inn at Biltmore or their evenings sipping local brews at the Thirsty Monk or the Lexington Avenue Brewery
We'll keep reporting as more information comes in! Thank you all for sharing!

Welcome to Little Fort Collins Asheville!
Update: we need to retitle our article, the "Fort Collins East of the Mississippi" -this is how New Belgium viewed us when they were exploring Asheville:

Asheville, NC – 163 Craven StreetStrengths• The “Fort Collins east of the Mississippi” with year around activities and tourist destinations• Culture consistency with site being near the arts district for a walk and bike workforce• Right to work state• Moderate tax with low utility costs• Population growth area Property DescriptionWeaknesses • Approximately 19 acres across 3 separate• No direct flight to Denver parcel owners – French Broad River• Smallest market under consideration Group (6 acres), McLamb (1.5 acres) and• Need to assemble and purchase land Main Auto Parts (10.35 acres) • Urban place zoning to be rezoned to 13 commercial industrial"

1 comment:

  1. Josh Awtry would like me to correct the statement - only one beer reporter:

    From Josh:
    Only ever had the one, Mari Peterson. A check of our staff list would show you how folks are deployed, and Tony is half-time in Asheville and half-time in Greenville. I'm not sure where the article above got their information. Here's the list:

    Citizen-Times | Follow Our Journalists | Asheville Citizen Times
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