Alcoa is front-runner for Sierra Nevada brewery

Blount County is the front-runner to land an East coast headquarters for Sierra Nevada Brewing Company.

Clayton Homes CEO Kevin Clayton said Wednesday that the Alcoa has moved ahead of Roanoke, Va., to be the East Coast headquarters for Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

“The exciting news is they have been on a two and half year process working with consultants studying all the Eastern part of the U.S. Over time, they worked it down to six or seven locations, and then more recently got down to Roanoke, Va., and our area,” Clayton said. “They are trying to make a final decision as to whether they’re going to do an East Coast operation. The good news is that they have announced that this area is their No. 1 pick currently.”

Clayton said he isn’t surprised by their reaction to the area and those trying to recruit them. “Having been a small part of the process and having spent time with them on two occasions and having traveled to Chico, Calif., to visit the operation with a team of people from this region, I do believe we’re a really good fit for them,” he said.

Clayton praised Blount Partnership president and CEO Bryan Daniels and members of the Knoxville Chamber for their work with Sierra Nevada. “It is really hard to describe how impressed I’ve been with the team of people from this area that addressed all Sierra Nevada’s needs and concerns,” he said. “What makes me proud is the Knoxville Chamber and surrounding areas were totally engaged. It was complete collaboration to figure out what would work best for Sierra Nevada, so it has been a really terrific process. Clearly it worked well and impressed them to the point that they would state we’re their No. 1 pick. They hope to make their decision in the next few weeks confirming if they are ready to move forward with an East coast operation.”

Daniels led a local delegation two weeks ago to check out the Chico, Calif., brewery, Clayton said.

Clayton said the people at Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., are first class in every aspect, especially in how environmentally conscious the company is. “The majority of their facility is powered by solar power,” he said. “They have gardens that supply food to their restaurant. It is really great, and they see that we appreciate those same things in this area.”

Clayton said the entire facility is first class. “They put quality ahead of everything,” he said.

Clayton said Sierra Nevada founder Ken Grossman has been head of the Craft Brewing Industry Association several times. “It is amazing watching him. They have a theater on their campus, and while we were there he was hosting these young craft brewers and teaching and showing them how to grow their businesses,” Clayton said. “Here’s the third-largest American-owned brewer in the U.S. teaching these young, up-and-coming brewers how to be better and how to compete. That is who Ken Grossman is. He knows that people helped him grow, and he spends a great deal of time showcasing their operation to up and coming craft brewers.”

Clayton said Sierra Nevada is the sixth largest brewery in America and the third largest American-owned brewery. “People forget Budweiser and Miller are not American-owned anymore,” he said. “It is an amazing operation Sierra Nevada has.”

Clayton said Sierra Nevada would be an outstanding corporate citizens for this area. “While I was there, I personally witnessed many things they do philanthropically to help the community,” he said. “It’s a major investment, and those are well-paying jobs.”

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