A healthy community requires good infrastructure and thriving small businesses. Our economy of goods producers particularly manufacturers are small business. This edition of our newsletter highlights two small businesses that manufacture stationary products and sheep cheese. There is opportunity to grow in these niche markets and there are many other businesses that are doing the same in Lewis County. Our organization is proud to support infrastructure planning that will turn into future construction of transportation facilities.
North Lewis County Industrial Access:
Lewis County is moving into the last phase of the North Lewis County Industrial Access (NLCIA) planning process, wrapping up work that began over a year ago. The purpose of the NLCIA planning work is to identify transportation strategies that support a vibrant local industrial economy. The study has looked at alternative routes utilizing existing interchanges, improvements to the existing local roadway, and rail strategies, as well as potential new routes or connections on both the local and state systems.
Recommended strategies increase connectivity in the study area, improve industrial access, make travel conditions safer on designated freight corridors, and smooth traffic flow. This includes a recommendation to extend the collector-distributor system north through Centralia to provide access between I-5 and Reynolds Avenue as well as improving access to and from Harrison Avenue and Mellen Street. This final phase of work will result in a Strategic Action Plan that identifies priorities and responsibilities, provides high-level cost estimates, timeframe, and other implementation details.
The EDC maintains a list of available Industrial buildings and properties that are for sale or lease. If you would like to add your property to the site or know of a property that could be added to the site please contact Benjamin Baria at the EDC. You can find properties at www.lewisedc.com
We continue to work with various leads that have expressed interest in our community. The sectors that are represented include building materials, transportation related businesses including distribution facilities. We look forward to sharing more details on this projects as they grow into potential investment to our community.
Business Retention & Expansion:
Ewe & I
This is a company that was grown out of necessity. Meg & Brad Gregory, the owners of “Ewe & I”, have a son who was born lactose intolerant but not wanting to give up delicious dairy products for life, they came up with a pretty unique solution, sheep milk. They began to expand their flock and were producing a large amount of sheep cheese. After their son overcame his intolerance, they were left with a lot of sheep, and even more sheep milk. This is when Meg and Brad decided to start a business. They got into cheese and milk production. They looked for a place to expand and that’s how Black Sheep Creamery came into being. That was two years ago now. You can look into the back room of their facility and see the cheese being made. Meg’s friend, Kathy Greene recalls, “She asked me if I wanted to open a yarn store. I thought to myself, I get to sit, knit, and drink coffee? This sounds perfect, so we started Ewe & I.” “Ewe and I” sells local dyers and commercial yarns to knitting enthusiasts. They are currently planning a marketing push to help get more customers in their doors. They are a jovial tight knit group, just 3 employees plus the owners. Please visit them in their store and try their cheese, it’s delicious! Or attend one of their classes and learn to make a present for that special someone in your life.
Evan Calkins was tired of working his 8-hour day job that did not afford him the creative freedoms he sought in a career. This is when he started moonlighting, pursuing his true passion, printing presses. Not just any printing presses, hundred-year-old presses. He found a person who was willing to sell their old 1902 printing press. He picked up the press and he and some friends took the machine apart. They hoisted the iron solid behemoth from the basement floor up to the ground level, and Hoban Press was born; Named after a sci-fi character in one of Evans favorite TV shows. He continued moonlighting and eventually bought several other printers, including a 1970 Original Heidelberg printer, the Cadillac of printing presses. Their big break came ten years ago when a venture capitalist named Kevin Rose had some cards made. From that time, they have not had to do any advertising and their sales have exploded across the world. 30% of their sales come from outside the U.S.A., primarily the U.K. and Australia. Those markets never had the kind of printing machines that we did in the US so Hoban’s product stands uniquely in those countries. Now, they even sell to the spiritual advisors of presidents and individuals throughout the US and the world. They have been at their current location for one year and have three employees. They are looking to hire a part time employee/intern to help with some web based marketing to grow their conversions. They truly sell a high end, classy, yet simple product. They can be found on the web http://hobanpress.com