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Partnership recognizes Ferncliff Industrial Park creator

Vaughan Fitzpatrick accepts the Partner of the Year Award from the Henderson County Partnership for Economic Development. Vaughan Fitzpatrick accepts the Partner of the Year Award from the Henderson County Partnership for Economic Development.

CRAB CREEK — Vaughan Fitzpatrick, whose family roots in Fletcher and Mills River date to 1868, was recognized Thursday by the Henderson County Partnership for Economic Development for creating the industrial park on the French Broad River that led to the recruitment of the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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Fitzpatrick, working with Henderson County and the PED, helped to create the 262-acre Ferncliff Industrial Park on land that was the westernmost piece of a vast tract owned by the Westfeldt family starting in 1868.
In 2007, Fitzpatrick began working with Henderson County, Duke Power, other utilities and the partnership to prepare the land for infrastructure and market it as an industrial site, said Nathan Kennedy, the immediate past partnership chairman of the partnership.
"We talked to practically every final-assembly factory in the world because of its access to the Asheville airport but in the end it was Sierra Nevada that became the first tenant and set the tone for Ferncliff Industrial Park," Kennedy said.
An avid kayaker, Fitzpatrick frequently paddles the French Broad. As a youngster growing up in New Orleans, where the original Westfeldt patriarch owned a coffee brokerage, Fitzpatrick spent summers at the Westfeldt family's "Green House" on the banks of the French Broad.
Fitzpatrick, who is retired as a lawyer for an oil company, thanked the partnership and praised the community's "almost Jeffersonian" commitment to betterment.
The annual partnership dinner attracted a large crowd to Shoals Farm Road next to DuPont State Forest. Oskar Blues owner Dale Katechis bought the property and has developed a mountain bicycle riding camp on the land.