As part of the deal to bring New Belgium Brewing to Asheville, Buncombe County has agreed to give the company up to $8.45 million in grants.
The first phase of payments will be made in annual $650,000 installments over a 10-year period, beginning in 2013, according to Jon Creighton, county planning director. In exchange, the brewer has agreed to create 130 local jobs with an average annual wage of $50,388 (the current average in Buncombe County is $33,800). New Belgium has also agreed to invest $115 million in its new facility, which will be located on Craven Street at the edge of the River Arts District. The third-largest craft brewer in the United States, the Fort Collins-based brewery is planning to build a brewery, distribution warehouse, tasting room and rooftop beer garden at the site.
If those requirements are achieved, the second phase of Buncombe County’s incentive package will kick-in in 2023: Three more yearly grants of $650,000, bringing the total amount to $8.45 million by 2026. In exchange, the brewery would be required to create 24 more local jobs and invest $60 million more in to the facility, bringing the company’s total contributions to 154 jobs and $175 million in investments.
The county grants are in addition to the $3.5 million in incentives and infrastructure improvements being offered by the city of Asheville and a $1 million grant from the state One North Carolina Fund. All in all, the brewer has been offered roughly $13 million in incentives from city, county and state governments. (Unlike the city and the state, the county didn’t publicize the details of its incentive agreement at the New Belgium announcement or in subsequent press releases).
However, the local incentives pale in comparison to the incentives offered by state and municipal governments trying to lure the company to build in Philadelphia, Pa., according to K. Ray Bailey, Buncombe County Commissioner and chair of the Economic Development Coalition’s board of directors.
“In the end, we were faced with a huge $20 million package, we heard, was coming out of Philadelphia. We just finally said we can’t compete with that, this is about all we can do,” Bailey reveals. “And so we sold New Belgium, I think, just on the culture of Asheville, the River District, and them being able to do something that was really great for this community.”
The board of commissioners will still have to vote on the incentives to finalize them. But Bailey says he doesn’t expect any opposition among his colleagues, noting that the county is projected to take in much more tax income as a result of the deal than what it’s agreeing to pay out.
In addition to the jobs New Belgium is planning to directly create, the project is estimated to add 260 indirect and induced jobs locally, according to Creighton. In total, the new jobs are projected to contribute $18.3 million in annual new labor income and $22 million in annual new state and local tax revenue, he reports.
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