Craft brewing is an established piece of Oregon's brand image and a significant economic driver. As Business Oregon, the state's economic development agency, markets the state as an ideal location for business, the agency often includes messaging on quality of life, diverse geography and culinary attraction in addition to profiling the business climate. Craft beer, as well as Oregon's esteemed wines, is part of that image and a very effective tool to spark conversations about Oregon.
Business Oregon came up with the idea to work with an Oregon brewery to develop a product that economic development professionals could use to promote the state, and Ninkasi Brewing Company loved the idea.
On Wednesday, Sept. 18th Governor John Kitzhaber met with Nikos Ridge, co-founder and CEO of Ninkasi in Eugene, to toast to the release of "Oregon Beer," a special promotional bottling of a NW Pale Ale. Ninkasi and Business Oregon collaborated in development of the label and Ninkasi produced 40 cases in gratis for the State to use at foreign and domestic tradeshows, follow-up thank you gifts to recruitment meetings, delegation gifts, business development events, and more.
"There are 149 breweries in Oregon pumping $2.8 billion into Oregon's economy," said Governor Kitzhaber. "With Oregon so well-known for the product, it's great we could partner with Ninkasi to represent the brewing industry and develop a unique promotional tool like this."
The bottle was made exclusively for use by the State and isn't available on store shelves. "This wasn't about setting out to make a new retail product for us, it was to work together in partnership with the State and do something cool they can use to get people talking about Oregon and highlight our growing industry at the same time," says Ridge. "The State has been a great partner as we continually expand in Eugene; this was a great new way to work together."
On the label reads a message from the Governor:
"Craft beer is one of Oregon's many flourishing industries, but it's not all that's brewing in Oregon. A beautiful landscape with a highly skilled workforce driving the second-fastest growing GDP in the nation makes for a great place to do business. And of course...enjoy great beer."
Business Oregon has already used the beer at several events, including a technology trade show in California. The bottles caught the eye of a site selector, a profession that consults with expanding firms to identify ideal business locations, who came over to the Oregon booth to ask about it before talking about beer and home-brewing.
"After chatting about beer, he looks over at our business recruiter and said he may have a manufacturing project that would be a good fit for us. Whether that turns into anything or not, that is a relationship we now have due to just starting a conversation over the beer. It worked great," said Nathan Buehler, marketing and communications manager with Business Oregon.