Business could be brewing for Wilmington.
Scott Satterfield, CEO of Wilmington Business Development, said Monday the economic development organization submitted a bid Thursday on behalf of the city to lure Stone Brewing Company’s future East Coast brewing operations to the Port City.
Satterfield said economic officials have identified land within the ILM Business Park, a sprawling 153.2-acre development bordered by the airport, Airport Boulevard and Blue Clay Road.
No incentives have been offered at this time since company officials are currently scoping out sites, Satterfield said.
“Right now they are focusing on finding a location,” Satterfield said. “If we are identified, that discussion will be addressed then.”
Jim Morton, Wilmington International Airport finance director who is helping oversee ILM Business Park development, said a parcel of roughly 23.5 acres has been submitted to the Escondido, Calif.-based brewery as a potential site.
“We feel it’s a great location because it’s a large site that’s centrally located to downtown, and has easy access to [U.S. Highways] 74/76 and [Interstate] 40,” Morton said.
Stone Brewing Co. is currently soliciting request for proposals from cities east of the Mississippi for a new East Coast brewing operation.
East Coast cities vying for the operation had until March 15 to submit their proposals to the brewery, according to the company’s website.
Officials are scouting locations that can accommodate a $29 million brewing and distribution operation, with estimates that it will directly create more than 370 new jobs at wages ranging from $12 an hour to $48 an hour.
Stone Brewing Co. is looking for new or existing locations that can accommodate a 130,000-square-foot building, with room to expand within or to an adjacent building to a maximum of 220,000 square feet, according to the company’s request. The site would also need to accommodate the brewery’s hospitality and retail operations, including an indoor and outdoor bar, kitchen, retail center and outdoor beer garden.
Company officials are also looking for major highway networks to help distribute their products to destinations across the East Coast.
Satterfield said Wilmington currently does not have an existing building that meets the company’s requirements, prompting WBD officials to contact Stone Brewing officials to see if they were interested in the airport site.
Company officials accepted the site – allowing WBD officials to press forward with its request proposal for the large-scale brewery.
“We may not have the building, but we certainly have the land and site that may be of interest,” Satterfield said. “We believe this is a great site for something like this. If we’re fortunate enough to make the cut, we can give them other options to increase greater Wilmington’s chances.”
Satterfield admits competition for the brewery will be intense, given the public nature of the brewery’s request proposal, and the number of cities – both large and small – that have aggressively come forward to woo the large-scale facility.
Asheville, Charlotte and Greensboro have been actively courting the brewery’s operation for their cities, with Charlotte and Greensboro residents even establishing Facebook pages touting their city’s brew culture and points of attraction as reasons for bringing the operation to their communities.
The northeastern South Carolina cities of Myrtle Beach – a large coastal tourist destination with international appeal, and Florence – an emerging logistics hub where Interstate 20 merges with Interstate 95 – have also submitted bids for the brewing operation.
Satterfield said greater Wilmington, with its quality of life, water quality, highway networks and dense population network of various incomes and interest makes the area an ideal choice.
Economic officials also have experience working with large-scale breweries.
WBD officials continue to meet with representatives of Detroit-based Atwater Brewery, which is considering opening its East Coast operation in Wilmington. Business officials also snagged the interest of San Diego-based Green Flash Brewing Company before the firm ultimately changed its mind and headed up the coast to establish its East Coast brewing operation in Virginia Beach, Va.
WBD is also talking with other breweries, but Satterfield could not reveal the operators.
“This is not the first or last brewery we’re continuing to work with,” Satterfield said. “We have a lot of compelling reasons on why we should be on anyone’s site search for establishing a brewery … our goal is to make a compelling reason on why they need to be here. We really believe we can compete.”
Stone Brewing Co. specializes in a number of IPAs, pale ales and porter brews, including its year-round brews of Stone Pale Ale and Lucky Basardt.
The company, which employs nearly 900 people, has also been growing rapidly – with revenue surging from $48 million in 2009 to $135 million in 2013, according to the company’s website.