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The Orion

Sierra Nevada: Pride of Chico

Photo credit: Helen Suh
Photo credit: Helen Suh

Founder and owner Ken Grossman was born and raised in Southern California, but fell in love with Chico and Northern California while establishing his brewery in 1979. Since then Sierra Nevada’s success has grown with national acclaim and today fosters Chico, the city of its origin.

The company employs about 450 workers in Chico and accounts for a huge proportion of commerce, revenue and activity for Chico. Many events like beer-tastings, performances, and celebrations such as Beer Camp entertain the locals as well as attract newcomers to experience Chico and the brewery.

A major aspect of Sierra Nevada’s community care is their devotion to sustainability, and it not only leads the brewing industry but most other types of businesses as well. Grossman has a passion for nature and outdoor activities, and declares he has “always appreciated the natural environment and wants to protect it.”

His business employs this passion not only by recycling all production materials or relying on solar or renewable energy to fuel processes, but also by innovating new ways to lower waste and emissions. It took his company four years and a hefty investment to convince the Chico City Council to support a food composting program, which now turns its food and brew waste into compost useful for soil nutrition in growing quality ingredients.

The Sierra Nevada sustainability team helps improve all aspects of the business’ sustainability from marketing to production to its restaurant, resulting in 99.8 percent of waste diverted to reuse. These efforts have paid off with their Platinum Zero Waste certification from the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council, making Sierra Nevada the first business to receive such an award. Proud of this achievement, the organization declares they are committed to continue cutting waste and further improving sustainability.

The company not only focuses on internal sustainability, but also focuses energy and funds on cleaning America’s natural environments. Its Wild Rivers project has raised more than $400,000 devoted to preserve natural rivers and bodies of water. Funds like these reflect Grossman’s passion for nature and are making significant strides in saving America’s wilderness.

Another donation of $88,000 from the Brewery sponsored Chico State’s Paul L. Byrne Agricultural Teaching and Research Center. This donation helped develop the farm’s tools for producing sausages which the Brewery restaurant serves, but will also fuel the center’s education.

Many beer lovers globally enjoy Sierra Nevada’s brews of unmatched quality without realizing they are supporting revolutionary and worthy causes. The Sierra Nevada Brewing company serves as a business model greater in purpose than most others aspire to be. Led by a business savvy and compassionate founder, the future of this Chico-born organization is helping this community as well as many others by simply providing beloved beverages that many happily unwind with.

Sean Daly can be reached at [email protected] or @sdaly3orion on Twitter.

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