EDC continues our efforts to retain, expand, and recruit business to Lewis County. We are optimistic about our economy as we continue to see record unemployment levels. We also see projects and grant opportunities that are coming closer to becoming a reality. The business climate is optimistic as smaller entrepreneurial start-ups are making an entrance in Lewis County.
Business Retention and Expansion
Pacific Northwest Cookie Company
Our momentum from the Smart Tank event in June continues as our participants pursue growing their startup businesses. Many of our participants have made significant strides forward, some hiring staff to aid in manufacturing, others creating internships. One entrepreneur that has great potential is Callie Carpenter – the owner of the Pacific Northwest Cookie Company. Her products meet the niche market for a vegan and gluten free cookie. She has made impressive steps to move her business idea forward.
Since the event this summer, she has made big improvements to her marketing campaign and online presence to widen the range of her target market, improving both the efficiency and quantity of cookies created each day and is currently exploring options for an expansion of her workspace into a much larger industrial kitchen, to keep up with demand. She continues to receive mentoring support from the Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology and was provided probono legal counsel from Althauser, Rayan, and Abbarno. Callie’s business has gone from selling cookies to friends and neighbors in Adna to now having a signed deal with Avenue Espresso and their nine locations. Each location will be displaying and selling her products so be sure to look for Pacific Northwest Cookie Co. the next time you are out for a morning coffee.
Quanex Building Products Corporation acquired Alumco and its subsidiaries, including Aluminite, in 2012. Quanex manufactures a wide range of products for the building and construction industries in plants throughout the world. The old Alumco headquarters in Chehalis has been moved from the local industrial park but the local manufacturing facility continues to build screens. Quanex currently has between 70-90 employees. They are always looking for good people that will stay.
The current production manager, Brad, started out in aerospace before transitioning to the company a few years ago. He said, “It’s been a busy year. We love being here because of the good location and our loyal employees.” You can learn more about the company at: https://www.quanex.com
MEGA ARMS was acquired by ZEV Technologies last year. They are a manufacturer of firearm parts and accessories. ZEV Technologies has grown rapidly and currently has approximately 40 employees at their two Centralia facilities. The company has said, “We are projecting 30 – 50% growth in the short term and planning on adding dozens more employees over the next few years.” They currently have operations in other locations, for example Oxnard, California. We have worked closely with ZEV Technologies by helping them connect to local companies to meet more of their business needs within our local market. You can learn more about the company at: http://www.zevtechnologies.com
The IFT Expo is the largest food tradeshow with professionals from over 90 countries. This year there were 23,250 total attendees with 1,211 exhibitors. Of those, 136 were contacted with 13 identified for potential expansion plans. Those companies headquarters span from New Jersey, to Saskatchewan, to California. Four companies responded to our outreach, and 1 has expressed interest in expanding to our area.
Pacific Northwest Industrial 2018
EDC recently attended a special event in Seattle that discussed the rise of e-commerce and its influence on logistics as well as the current industrial market in our area. There were many featured speakers, includingTom T. O’Keefe, Chairman and CEO of O’Keefe Development and the developer of the grocery distribution center coming to Centralia.
Some of the highlights from the event included: a discussion on distribution facilities currently being built in Lacey and in Centralia, e-commerce being the primary driver of the growing logistics market, having enough labor now being more important than location, and changing building requirements such as clear heights of 40 to 60 feet. The consensus was that this market has been a great run and is a rising tide that is helping all communities grow and prosper.
The EDC will be hosting its bi-monthly general membership meeting on Thursday October 18th, 2018. Come to hear the Chehalis Basin Strategy speak on local flooding efforts. The meeting will be catered by Rib Eye – Ramblin Jacks and held at the Holiday Inn Express.