Cost of Growth: Breweries boost local business scene

There are now about 63 breweries in Western North Carolina. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

It's hard to talk about the popularity of Asheville without mentioning the beer scene. Right now, there are 63 breweries across Western North Carolina.

But other businesses besides breweries are popping up across the area.


Every pour at local breweries pours more money into the already booming tourist industry in Asheville.

"I think the breweries came in and took that momentum and accelerated it times 10," said Mike Rangel, owner of Asheville Brewing Company.

Rangel first opened his business back in 1995. He says he would never have guessed the beer mecca this city has become.

Rangel believes one big reason both the big labels and the start ups have been successful here is the water.

"I think it has a lot of do with the natural resources -- incredible limestone beds and this cold, hard water coming down from Grandfather Mountain, and I think that transferred into the beer," Rangel said.

Rangel says he's blown away every day at the people who travel to Asheville from every corner of the globe just for the local brews.

"We had a group of nine from Japan who came in and knew every beer we've made for the last 2 years," Rangel said.


As more breweries have popped up in the city, so have other businesses.

The Asheville Chamber of Commerce provided data showing that there has been a steady flow of new establishments over the last several years.

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But some wonder if we've reached our limit.

"I don't think we are overbuilt. Wwe have some runway to go yet, but we will know when we are overbuilt," Matthew Burril, the president of BrickStreet Equity Management, said.

Burril also works with the Economic Development Coalition. He says there has been a recent shift in what kinds of companies the city is trying to bring in.

"We've got to have high wage earners moving here. We cannot recruit $10 an hour jobs, cannot do it. We are doing a disservice to our community if we recruit $10 an hour jobs," Burril said.

He says years ago they looked to attract large manufacturing businesses that employ hundreds. Now, they're recruiting entrepenuers who only need limited space for jobs like tech start-ups.

"Today it's very different. We are looking at smaller companies, we're looking at high mental net worth employees, folks with advanced degrees, employees that have specific conceptual skill sets," Burril said.

Burril says that's because the land is simply too expensive and too hard to find.

He says their plan is working and investments have already brought in dozens of small companies in the last few years.

"They're coming from all over the world to be here because they know there is capital access, and they also know there are like-minded brains that can attach and latch on," Burril said.

He believes Asheville is ready to build off the breweries and evolve its business landscape.

"That's really what we're trying to do here in Asheville, create that balance of productive living, a good liveable wage, but also a liveable lifestyle," Burril said.

We want to know how Asheville's growth is affecting you. Email us at

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