We told you most of the whos and the whys of this major scoop in this week’s Monday Business Briefing.
But this morning, city officials filled in the most important element: Where Beam Inc. executives are putting their Global Shared Business Center.
While the Chicago-based parent company of Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark won’t be moving its headquarters to Louisville, it will place its Global Shared Business Center in Fourth Street Live in the center of downtown, a major economic-development coup.
The offices will go into 24,000 square feet of space above Gordon Biersch restaurant and micro-brewery in space that was occupied by defunct Borders Books.
This morning at the Downtown YMCA, Louisville Metro Mayor Greg Fischer and Daryl Snyder, vice president for economic development at Greater Louisville Inc., the Metro Chamber of Commerce, made the announcement.
The GSBC includes 60 executives either relocated from Beam headquarters in Chicago, or recruited here. The aggregate annual payroll will be $5 million, with an average salary of about $83,000.
The Beam operation is scheduled to be stood up by the second quarter of next year after a $1.7 million retrofit of the space.
The jobs are mostly in back office operations including accounting, benefits, accounts payable and payroll, functions usually at headquarters. These Beam employees are already in Kentucky, for the most part, at Beam’s offices in Clermont, near the giant Jim Beam Distillery there.
Paula Erickson, Beam vice president of Global Communications & Brand Public Relations, told Insider Louisville last Friday that Beam, recently split off from Fortune Brands, won’t get the headquarters, contrary to what we were hearing from insiders.
But Erickson teased a big announcement about the GSBC, saying it would come “very, very soon.” Which turned out to be today.
Snyder credited Ketucky Gov. Steve Beshear, Ted Smith, Fischer’s Director of Economic Development and Innovation, and Fischer for sealing the deal with Beam, which was considering locations around the world.
“The announcements of these big deals … it looks real easy. It seems like a natural for them to come here” because of so many Beam operations already in Kentucky, Snyder said.
“But we knew early on this was a global competition. They could have put these jobs anywhere in the world,” he said.
Snyder added that a big lure was the vibe of downtown Louisville and Fourth Street Live – being in the middle of an entertainment district, with restaurants and activity. “And I can tell you this. They only looked downtown.”
“We hated to loose Borders Books,” Fischer said. But having that Fourth Street Live space allowed city econ-dev officials to land Beam, he said.
Fischer said the addition of Beam makes Louisville an even bigger player in the bourbon industry.
Though it’s not clear what Beam intends to do as far as a tourist/urban bourbon facility here, the mayor said planned urban distillery projects by Louisville-based Heaven Hill and Michter’s Distillery will add “sizzle” to downtown:
When people come visit American cities, they want an authentic experience. Louisville will be the trailhead to Bourbon Trail. We want to develop this so we’re doing with bourbon what Napa (Valley) is doing with wine.”
When Snyder was asked if GLI executives pitched Beam executives on relocating the entire headquarters to Louisville, Fischer answered for him: “Absolutely!”
Snyder added that companies “are where they are for a reason. But we know we can keep the headquarters (recruitment) in our back pocket. We’re an option, now. We’ve shown them we’re a great place to do business.”
The back story from July: We reported back in July that Beam had issued a request for proposal to commercial real estate brokers. The RFP stated Beam was in the market for 30,000 square feet of downtown space, say real estate sources. Beam wanted a downtown office presence for a “global business center.” Our sources said then that Beam execs also want to create a Maker’s Mark visitor’s center that would complement their property down in Loretto in Marion County where the company is spending about $55 million on an expansion of the distillery/tourist attraction. Earlier this year, the distillery got clearance with the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development for business investment tax credits based on an investment here of about $5 million.
About Beam: Beam Inc. became a stand-alone public spirits company in October 2011 (NYSE: BEAM). Beam is the fourth largest premium spirits company in the world and the largest U.S.-based spirits company. Its brands include the No. 1 selling bourbon, Jim Beam, as well as Maker’s Mark and premium brands such as Booker’s and Knob Creek. In addition, Beam owns top global brands such as Courvoisier cognac and several single-malt Scotch whiskeys. Beam employs about 400 people in Kentucky. Beam operations here include the Clermont facility about 20 miles south of Louisville International Airport, Maker’s Mark in Loretto, Ky., near Bardstown and a distillery in Frankfort where the company makes Canadian Club.