Colorado Brewery Head One Of Few CEOs At The DNC

Audie Cornish talks to Kim Jordan, CEO of the New Belgium Brewing Company in Fort Collins, Colo. Jordan is in Charlotte, N.C., at the Democratic National Convention.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish at the Democratic National Convention.

All week the conversation here has been about jobs. But other than a primetime appearance by Costco's co-founder, big business supporters have been MIA. I did find a meeting of progressive business leaders, where I met a CEO named Kim Jordan.

KIM JORDAN: My then-husband Jeff Lebesch and I started New Belgium in the basement of our house. So it's really one of those kind of crazy, entrepreneurial American success stories.

CORNISH: New Belgium is a Colorado-based beer company. And it's doing well, $140 million in sales last year alone.

I asked Kim Jordan why she was in Charlotte, when so many of her fellow CEO's are supporting Mitt Romney.

JORDAN: For me, it's important to understand that, you know, my coworkers and I put our collective shoulders to the wheel to build equity; that I can't get all of the beer that we make out of the door by myself. It takes the effort of a lot of people who - I watch them, they're incredibly dedicated. So I'm comfortable with the notion that you pool your labor, you build equity. And for me, I want to share that.

And so, if you operate under a model that says that strangers who - granted, they have put money into your business to help it grow - if you believe that those people should have a higher return than the people that you work with, then I suppose you see the Republican mindset as being more aligned with what you think.

CORNISH: Now, going into the next year, there's question marks about tax policy and there's been so much, essentially, uncertainty for business owners. How are you feeling about that? Do you agree with that?

JORDAN: You know, anyone who has started a business knows that there's a lot of uncertainty in the world and you just kind of have to decide what's important to you and go forward always kind of keeping that in mind. I think certainly there will be tax implications. And while I can't sit here and say, oh, I love that, I also think, you know, to whom much is granted much is expected.

CORNISH: But another thing that many in the business community have been critical about is this idea of regulation; whether they think it's too much or they don't think that the direction of the Obama administration is going makes sense for business. And as someone who has a business and has to deal with regulations, how are you feeling about the last couple of years?

JORDAN: Well, you can imagine that being a brewery, we're highly regulated. I will admit that I think that there are regulations that don't really have the effect that the regulator perhaps hoped for. And I can understand why people are maddened by those kinds of things. And having said that, I think that if we are living in a new world - our customers are younger, they have the expectation of a different kind of world, both as workers and as customers. They expect for businesses to be concerned and focused on sustainability.

CORNISH: So you don't see it as being on a path of overregulation?

JORDAN: I don't. I think that there are ways to use incentives to encourage the kinds of behaviors that we want in companies. And I think we have seen - in the take away the regulation mantra - that sadly, when people are left to their own devices the profit motive sometimes gets in the way of good decision-making. And so, I think we need to use regulation as a way to make sure that we are not harming the environment, that we're not harming workers, and that we're looking out for generations that will come after us.

CORNISH: Well, Kim Jordan, thank you so much for speaking with me.

JORDAN: Thank you for having me, Audie. I appreciate it.

SIEGEL: That's Kim Jordan, the CEO of New Belgium Brewing, speaking to my co-host Audie Cornish.

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