In 1996 Colorado Lending Source was making a name for itself across the Front Range. Loan activity was up 133% from the previous year, and for the second time in a row, the organization was named the most active certified development company in the state of Colorado. Additionally, Colorado Lending Source received recognition from the National Association of Development Companies (NADCO) for “Greatest Increase in Loan Activity” and “Most Active Local Certified Development Company” in its six state region.
As lenders and small businesses caught wind of Colorado Lending Source, they wanted to hear stories about the organization’s impact. Colorado Lending Source’s first “Success Story” was written in 1996, highlighting a small business in Fort Collins called New Belgium Brewing:
A 1996 Success Story- New Belgium Brewing, Inc.
In June 1991, owners Jeffrey Lebesch and Kim Jordan opened New Belgium Brewing Company in a space attached to their home in Fort Collins, Colorado. It was the first brewery in the United States to specialize in Belgian style ales. In August 1992 the brewing operation moved to 350 Linden Street and soon grew out of its leased space.
In February 1996, [Colorado Lending Source] funded a $1 million debenture for the construction and equipping of a $4 million family-owned brewery facility. [New Belgium] employed 28 people in 1994 and had annual sales of approximately $4.2 million. Today the company produces five beer styles a year and it enjoys a national reputation because of its unique market niche, while generating over $13 million annually, with 67 full time employees.
The SBA loan program, coupled with financing from First National Bank of Fort Collins has enabled this successful business the opportunity to attractively finance its equipment and facilities requirements, as well as its subsequent expansion project, which has resulted in the creation of 39 full time job opportunities within the Fort Collins area.
A lot has changed for New Belgium Brewing since moving to Linden Street in 1996. The company’s year round beers have increased to ten varieties, with additional seasonal and limited edition releases. In 2014, New Belgium produced and sold 945,367 barrels of beer, generating over $190 million in sales, making it the third largest craft brewery and the eight largest overall brewery in the United States.
New Belgium became a certified B Corporation in 2013. The practices of B Corps are inline with the values and mission created by Jeffrey and Kim when they first started the brewery in 1991. There are now close to 600 employee-owners as well. In 2000, New Belgium began its shift to an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) business, and by the end of 2012 the company became 100% employee owned. This transition puts the company, and employees, on path to control their destiny in the future. New Belgium is also very active in philanthropy. For every barrel of beer sold, the company donates $1 to non-profit organizations in local communities. More than $7 million has been donated since the philanthropy program was conceived in 1995.
Furthermore, New Belgium is leading the way in environmental stewardship. A core value from the beginning, the brewery has worked hard to reduce its carbon footprint. Colorado’s largest private solar array was installed at the brewery to power the bottling line. An on-grounds water treatment facility was added, as well. The wastewater from brewing is cleaned by microbes, which produces a byproduct methane gas. New Belgium uses this byproduct to power about 10% of the brewery. In 2013 New Belgium diverted 99.9% of its waste from landfills, and their new environmental goal is to become entirely wind powered.
New Belgium Brewing is currently putting the finishing touches on its 133,000 square foot second location in Asheville, North Carolina. The brewery will employee an additional 140 to 150 individuals and will produce over a half million barrels each year.