Business heats up for small food processors

| Print |  Email
Articles - December 2011
Tuesday, November 15, 2011

 

1211_SmallFoods_02
Small food processor Organic Fresh Fingers employs 13 workers at its plant in Salem.
// Photo by Travis Henry

 

Wildwood brought two potential tenants for the building to the negotiating table: Organic Fresh Fingers and Wandering Aengus Ciderworks, small food processors in growth modes. Together, the parties devised the loan program. The city loaned each about $275,000 from the new fund to make improvements to the building that would enhance its sustainability and energy efficiency. Wildwood also offered its fledgling tenants certain incentives to locate there, including a sliding-scale lease deal under which they pay below-market rates now but will pay more as they grow.

Because food processing is so energy-intensive, utility bills comprise a huge chunk of the cost of production. The start-up principals put their heads together with Henry and Miller and came up with a list of energy-saving improvements, including solar heating units, highly efficient heat pumps, energy-efficient lighting, and so on. These improvements resulted in a 23% reduction in energy use compared to a traditionally built facility.

The tenants arrived in September and already they are realizing huge reductions in utility costs, says Organic Fresh Fingers’ president Evann Remington. “I’m shocked at how much it’s saving us,” she says. (A third food-processing tenant that has one employee, Myriad Cake Design, subleases from Organic Fresh Fingers.)

Here’s the kicker: The tenants can have up to 70% of the loans converted to a grant if they meet certain hiring benchmarks. Already, Organic Fresh Fingers, which sells organic lunch items to schools and kids’ organizations, has hired eight more employees since it moved in, bringing its total to 13. Ciderworks, which employed just two prior to the move, now has six employees and plans to hire three more after the first of the year.

Both Organic Fresh Fingers and Ciderworks can already see the time coming when they’ll outgrow their current space. That’s good, Henry says, because the incubator strategy envisions the current tenants succeeding, expanding, and moving from incubation space to new space on the same property.
“We hope our next building on the site is being incubated in this building,” Henry says. And next time, instead of retrofitting an existing structure, Wildwood can build in sustainability from the ground up, and save its tenants even more money.



 

More Articles

Political theater

News
Wednesday, January 07, 2015
0107-orbizplansum14-thumbBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

The Oregon Business Plan Leadership Summit drew more than 1,000 people to the Oregon Convention Center yesterday.


Read more...

Communications error

News
Friday, January 30, 2015
013015-zidellmattfrench-thumbBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

How did an errant email to the Zidell family end up fronting a story in the Oregonian this morning?


Read more...

Corner Office: Timothy Mitchell

January-Powerbook 2015
Saturday, December 13, 2014

A look-in on the life of Norris & Stevens' president, plus an abridged Powerlist for the best commercial real estate firms.


Read more...

MBA Perspective

February 2015
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

Robin Anderson, dean of the Pamplin School of Business, University of Portland: "You need people who are comfortable leading in ambiguity."


Read more...

Convention Wisdom

February 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

After more than a decade of wrangling, construction on a convention center hotel in Portland is slated to start this summer. But debate over project financing continues.


Read more...

Dan and Louis Oyster Bar opens up to a changing neighborhood

The Latest
Thursday, December 11, 2014
121114-oystervidBy MEGHAN NOLT

VIDEO: Revamping a Classic — an iconic eatery stays relevant in a changing marketplace.


Read more...

Corner Office: Sheree Arntson

January-Powerbook 2015
Saturday, December 13, 2014

Checking in with the managing director of Arnerich Massena.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS