Thursday, July 7, 2011

Salem Loan Program Creates Growth Opportunities for Local Businesses

Organic Fresh Fingers and Wandering Aengus Ciderworks Awarded Funds

(Monday, June 27, 2011) – Salem, OR – The City of Salem recently launched an innovative loan program designed to foster small business growth and create local jobs – the Fairview Urban Renewal Area (URA) Small Business Pilot Loan Program. Organic Fresh Fingers, a Salem-based food processing company that provides local organic meals to schools and corporate child care facilities, and Wandering Aengus Ciderworks, a national leader in the emerging artisan cider industry, are the first companies to be awarded funds from Salem's newest loan program.

“The City is happy to welcome Organic Fresh Fingers and Wandering Aengus Ciderworks to the Fairview Urban Renewal Area,” said Salem Mayor Anna Peterson. “We look forward to these companies, and future recipients of this loan, growing and creating further job opportunities in Salem.”

Salem’s Fairview URA is located east of the Salem Municipal Airport and south of Madrona. The Small Business Pilot Loan Program originated as an innovative approach to aid qualified local businesses in their expansion efforts, benefit the residents of Salem, and satisfy the financial objective of the URA plan. The interest rate, term, and optional deferred payment are intended to assist businesses with their expansion transition and give them incentive to immediately grow new jobs for eligibility for up to 70% loan forgiveness. As part of the University of Oregon Sustainable Cities Initiative, Community Planning Workshop graduate students conducted research and identified specialty food and beverage manufacturing, among other industries, as a growing opportunity in Salem.

Organic Fresh Fingers and Wandering Aengus Ciderworks, are working with Wildwood Inc., a Salem-based sustainable development company with thirty years experience planning and developing sustainable projects in Oregon, to expand their operations through the conversion of an existing warehouse into an energy efficient commercial kitchen and Ciderhouse. All three companies are committed to sustainable practices, creating local jobs, and adding value to Northwest-grown products.

With the loan from the Urban Renewal Agency of Salem, Organic Fresh Fingers, Inc. will build out a 6,000 square foot food manufacturing facility located at 4070 Fairview Drive in Salem. The construction will include converting the building to “food grade” specifications and the purchase of equipment to increase production and distribution of the Organic Fresh Fingers meal program. The company will also install a solar photovoltaic system, allowing them to utilize a renewable source of energy for production.

“When I started making meals for children from our small (1,460 sq. ft.) kitchen, I couldn't have hoped for faster growth than what Organic Fresh Fingers has experienced,” said Evann Remington, President and CEO of Organic Fresh Fingers. “We are currently operating out of a 2,000 sq. ft. space, and are bursting at the seams. We are excited and grateful for the Urban Renewal Loan Program. With the loan, we will be able to triple our production space, allowing us to fulfill increasing requests for our products. With the increase in production capacity, we are looking forward to hiring several new employees, further stimulating the City's economy.”

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