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Economic development leaders lobby for Stone Brewing Co.’s East Coast plant

Local economic development officials are lobbying to make Charlotte the home of California-based Stone Brewing Co.’s new East Coast brewery.

In a move that surprised some, two local development agencies submitted competing pitches for the project.

Local officials have responded to the company’s request for proposals for a new East Coast plant of at least 130,000 square feet. The Escondido, Calif.-based company is the 10th-largest craft brewer in the nation and the biggest in southern California.

It makes such popular (and colorfully titled) beers as “Arrogant Bastard Ale” and the “Ruination.” The Charlotte Regional Partnership has launched a web site and a social media campaign (#StoneGoToCUSA) to tout several sites around the region, from Rowan to Lincoln to Gaston, as well as one in Huntersville and one in Mint Hill.

Local Stone lovers haven’t been sitting on the sidelines. They’ve launched a Facebook site that’s gotten more than 1,100 “likes” in hopes of showing the brewery that the Charlotte region should be its new East Coast home.

There is competition, however. Published reports say Myrtle Beach, Wilmington, Asheville and Greensboro are among the many Carolinas cities pursuing the plant. Other communities across the East Coast, from Bethlehem, Pa., to the state of Alabama to East Tennessee’s Blount County have expressed interest.

The company says the new brewery will bring an estimated 370 jobs with wages ranging from $12 to $48 an hour.

The company projects its capital expenditures for the new brewery at $31 million. Revenues are projected to exceed $100 million by the fourth year, according to Sam Boykin, spokesman for the partnership.

Pat Tiernan, the brewer’s chief operating officer, said in a letter attached to the request for proposals that in deciding where to go, “significant weighting” will be placed on incentives packages offered by communities.

Company spokeswoman Sabrina LoPiccolo declined to say how many communities have expressed interest. However, she added: “We definitely have seen quite a bit of interest and are pleased with the amount of proposals we’ve received.”

There may even be competition within the Charlotte region. Tweets appeared Tuesday afternoon on one of the Charlotte Chamber’s Twitter accounts (@cltecondev) saying the chamber had also submitted sites, and that the chamber started the Facebook page weeks ago.

Boykin said the partnership had asked the chamber to join the partnership’s pitch, “but they opted not to participate with our proposal” and would instead do their own.

He said such overlap happens sometimes, because the chamber represents Charlotte while the partnership represents the region.

Chamber President Bob Morgan said the two organizations were approached separately about the project, and responded appropriately in advocating for their areas.

The situation “is not unique in any way nor is it adversarial,” he said in a statement emailed to reporters. “Our goals are aligned in the mission to bring jobs and investment to Charlotte and the region.”

Frazier: 704-358-5145; @Ericfraz on Twitter
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