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Granola bar maker plans Lane County operation.

Byline: Ed Russo The Register-Guard

JUNCTION CITY - A Canadian cereal and granola bar maker plans to open a large manufacturing plant south of Junction City, employing about 75 people, according to the proposed plant's developer.

The 300,000-square-foot granola bar factory for Northern Gold Foods is to be constructed on 11 acres by Grain Millers, which owns the property and about 90 additional acres south of the Junction City limits, said Christian Kongsore, Grain Miller's executive vice president.

Privately owned Northern Gold Foods is based near Vancouver, B.C. It buys oats and other ingredients for its products from Grain Millers, which has a mill with towering silos on Madison Street in Eugene, and a warehouse on South Bertelsen Road.

The one-story building with a mezzanine level for Northern Gold Foods' plant could be completed by next fall, Kongsore said. Grain Millers will lease the structure to Northern Gold, he said. He declined to disclose the cost of the building or the length of the lease.

Northern Gold Foods owner Spencer Beach on Friday could not be reached for comment.

The new manufacturing facility on Meadow View Road, east of Highway 99, would be another economic boon for Junction City, a community of about 6,000 people north of Eugene.

In the past few years, the state of Oregon built and opened a 222,000-square-foot psychiatric hospital east of Highway 99, Cosmos Creations built a 130,000-square-foot production facility in the city, and Winnebago Industries reopened the former Country Coach recreational vehicle manufacturing plant in the city.

The proposed site for Northern Gold Foods is not inside the boundaries of a state-authorized enterprise zone for Junction City and Harrisburg, where qualifying companies can get three to five years of property tax waivers on new buildings and equipment.

The boundary of the enterprise zone would have to be expanded to include Grain Millers' property for the plant to receive tax breaks.

Junction City is taking the lead on extending the boundary, which would require the approvals of the Junction City and Harrisburg city councils, and most likely the Linn and Lane county boards of commissioners, Harrisburg City Administrator Brian Latta said.

The building site is within Junction City's urban growth boundary; the property is zoned for industrial use. City water and sewer lines would need to be extended to the site for any development. Those lines have already been extended to the state hospital, which is north of the proposed Northern Gold site.

In 2007, Grain Millers purchased 100 acres south Junction City, with the idea of building a processing plant for oat, wheat, barley and rye. The land has remained undeveloped.

"Our intent has always been to create a food campus where companies similar to ours or those who use our products can be," Kongsore said.

The Northern Gold Foods plant will be "a substantiative value-added food processing company in the Southern Willamette Valley," he said.

Northern Gold Foods earlier this year was looking to expand into the United States with a manufacturing plant, possibly in Washington, Kongsore said.

But Grain Millers, with encouragement from Business Oregon, the state's economic development agency, persuaded Northern Gold Foods to locate a plant near Junction City, he said. Melissa Murphy, a regional development officer for Business Oregon, helped with the recruitment.

Northern Gold Foods started in 1978 in Coquitlam, east of Vancouver, B.C.

The company grew and in 1999 built its current home, a 146,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Port Coquitlam.

The company sells steel cut oats and muesli under the Northern Gold name, as well as Spencer's cereals and granola bars, but much of its business is making cereals and other products for other brands.

Northern Gold Foods plans to make granola bars in the Junction City plant, Kongsore said.

Grain Millers has applied to Junction City for building permits with that will allow it to put gravel down on the property as early as next week, he said.

"We have been very thrilled by the reception that we have had through Business Oregon and Junction City," Kongsore said.

Follow Ed Russo on Twitter @edwardrusso. Email ed.russo@
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Title Annotation:Economic Development
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Oct 28, 2017
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