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BIG FOREST: The courtship of Sierra Nevada

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. in Mills River. [PHOTO BY PAULA ROBERTS] Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. in Mills River. [PHOTO BY PAULA ROBERTS]


Part 1: Teddy bears and Torpedo beer



Andrew Tate got a call on March 1, 2011, about an industrial prospect. There was nothing new about that. The president of the Henderson County Partnership for Economic Development since 2007, Tate had recruited new companies to the county and helped others expand. He knew the initial ping
from an industrial site hunter was at best the first step down a long road and often a false alarm that led to no road at all. The prospect was code named Fish Bowl. It would be six months before Tate learned that the client was Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., the second largest craft brewer in the U.S.
"We heard about project Fish Bowl from a business and industry developer with the Department Commerce, Garrett Weickoff," said Tate, a 36-year-old native of Fuquay Varina, east of Raleigh. "He'd been contacted by Austin consulting, which was the firm engaged by Sierra Nevada. The first time we heard about project Fish Bowl, there was a requirement that there be rail on the site, which has always been a very limiting factor, especially for Western North Carolina. We honestly did not see an opportunity to respond with a competitive site at that point in time."
He submitted the material on two industrial sites then forgot about Fish Bowl, figuring the client would scratch Mills River — no train track.
Tate had no way of knowing what had gone on behind the scenes already. And he had no way of knowing that this still-secret client would soon take him and the industry recruiting apparatus of Henderson County on a six-month thrill ride that would end in one of the biggest victories ever for the Partnership.


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