Back in January, Escondido, CA-based craft beer maker Stone Brewing Co announced that it was searching for a site for brewery operations on the east coast.
The company is planning to invest $20 million in the initial phase, and the project is expected to create around 370 jobs.
The site must be able to accommodate 130,000 square feet of space for brewing, packaging and distribution operations, with enough room for expanding to 220,000 square feet.
The project also needs space for an on-site or adjacent hospitality facility including a Stone World Bistro, beer garden and a retail store.
Interested cities were asked to respond to this RFP by March 15, 2014, and the company is now in the process of shortlisting sites from all the proposals that have been submitted.
The company has contacted state economic development agencies, and no doubt the usual site selection process with site visits and negotiations will play out.
But the whole process took an interesting detour in the interim to Facebook, in part because one of the questions that needed to be answered in the RFP was ‚ÄúWhy Stone Brewing Co. would be a good fit for this location and community?‚Äù
One after the other, the economic development agencies of Myrtle Beach, Charlotte, Greensboro, Roanoke and other cities competing for the project took to Facebook and created pages to rally the community and show Stone Brewing Co. how much support a craft brewery would have in the city.
The Myrtle Beach Economic Development Corporation (MBEDC) set up Stone Brewed on the Beach, which says ‚ÄúMyrtle Beach needs more breweries and we need you! Show your support and help bring the finest craft brew to the Grand Strand!‚Äù
They‚Äôre also pushing it on the main MBEDC Facebook page, asking people to like and share the Stone Brewed on the Beach page if they want to support job creation in Myrtle Beach and Horry County.
It seems to be working, because the page was created on March 11, 2014 and already has nearly 5,000 likes.
The Charlotte Chamber’s economic development team set up the Bring Stone Co. to Charlotte page on Facebook. They‚Äôve got 1,350 likes so far.
The Charlotte Regional Partnership, which serves as the regional economic development agency for the 16-county Charlotte region, has separately set up a website (stonebrewcharlotteusa.com). Stories about Charlotte‚Äôs efforts to snag the brewery can be followed on Twitter under the hashtag #StoneGoToCUSA.
All this is more than enough for the Charlotte team to put in front of Stone executives to prove the support base that exists in the city for the brewery.
The Greensboro Partnership set up the Show Stone Brewing Greensboro’s Home page, which now has more than 2,150 likes. They‚Äôre working with the City of Greensboro and other community partners to recruit Stone Brewing Co. to Greensboro.
Roanoke has the Stone Brewing Co.: YES Roanoke is Worthy page, which has more than 1,780 likes. There are many more east coast cities interested in the project, including Charleston, SC; Norfolk, VA; Bethlehem, PA; and Wilmington, NC, among others.