Charlotte vs. Charlotte in battle to bring Stone Brewing to city
In January, Stone Brewing Company made an announcement that it would be expanding and looking for a new brewery site on the East Coast. Daniel Hartis from CharlotteBeer.com did a great job of explaining how the proposal process worked and what Stone would be looking for in a potential city.
Building on the current craft boom here, it was not surprising that Charlotte threw its cap (pun intended) in the ring, as Daniel spoke with Andrea Ware, the director of economic development at the Charlotte Chamber and discovered a Facebook page, “Bring Stone Brewing Co. to Charlotte” had also been created to drum up support.
RFPs (request for proposals) were due March 15, and word trickled out today that the Charlotte Regional Partnership went all out, debuting a Web site, www.stonebrewcharlotteusa.com and Twitter hashtag, #StoneGoToCUSA as part of their pitch to the California brewery.
But then I saw a tweet from the Charlotte Chamber, saying their RFI had been sent off for consideration.
Wait, we’re all on the same page here, right? This is a unified front to bring one of the largest breweries in the country to the Queen City, yes?
Actually, no. A quick inquiry discovered that the Charlotte Chamber and the Charlotte Regional Partnership are in fact not working together on this, but rather submitted two separate proposals (actually 10, but we’ll get to that in a minute).
So in essence, along with numerous other East Coast cities (Wilmington; Greensboro; Myrtle Beach; Charleston; Bethlehem, Pa.; and Norfolk, Va., have also submitted bids, and those are just the ones who have made it public), Charlotte will be vying with … Charlotte.
This seems baffling to me. Surely the two knew about what one other was doing; how hard is it to decide on one great site and then get full backing, instead of trying to drum up support from city leaders and the community and making them choose sides?
While the Charlotte Chamber did not disclose their site (I’ve heard that it’s near the N.C. Music Factory), the Charlotte Regional Partnership made all of their sites known. Yes, that’s sites with an “s,” despite, as Daniel Hartis pointed out in a tweet, that Stone only wanted one address. Also, it looks like of the CRP’s sites, none are actually located in Charlotte. The Web site is a little wonky to use and one of the proposed sites on Weddington Road is spelled “Weddingrton.” (That’s not putting your best foot forward, folks.) And if you try to find out any information on the Web page, you get a password-protected prompt. So from what little I can decipher, nine sites in the Charlotte region are being pitched by the Charlotte Regional Partnership.
We’ll see how this goes moving forward. Maybe Stone will be bowled over that a city wants a brewery so bad that they would make different proposals. Or maybe they’ll be confused and the two will cancel each other out.
Oh, and it should be noted that there is some other news regarding breweries – those already in Charlotte. Sycamore Brewing received its federal license today, and another brewery, Sugar Creek, will open its doors in July when Olde Mecklenburg Brewery relocates to its new site.
While a huge national brewery such as Stone would bring a lot to the city, let’s not forget the local ones that started this boom (along with the up-and-coming/new ones) and continue to put Charlotte on the map as a craft beer destination.