'Green' food processing incubator opens in Salem

A new food processing facility in Salem anchors an ag-focused innovation center.

A new food processing facility in Salem anchors an ag-focused innovation center.

Gov. John Kitzhaber and other officials will gather in Salem next Wednesday to mark the opening of a new food processing facility set up to operate efficiently and provide space for growing food-related businesses.

The initial tenants of the building, which was developed by Wildwood Inc., are Organic Fresh Fingers Inc. and Wandering Aengus Ciderworks.

"What we're trying to do ultimately is make it possible for these businesses to succeed," said Travis Henry, vice president of Salem-based Wildwood.

The processing facility features solar hot water collectors, a photovoltaic array installed under the feed-in tariff, a building that's 25 percent more efficient than state building codes require and a rent schedule that increases gradually as businesses grow.

Wildwood, which helped launch SeQuential-Pacific Biodiesel, intends to develop the 12 acres where the building sits into the East Pringle Innovation Center, a multi-building campus housing a cluster of companies working in food and beverage processing and making use of local ingredients.

"That's what we do well here," Henry said. "Oregon is a tremendous growth state; the Willamette Valley is very fecund in that way."

But because food processing is usually so energy intensive, Wildwood will leverage its background in green residential building — custom home building business Woodscape Green is among Wildwood's family of businesses — for more efficient industrial buildings.

Organic Fresh Fingers, which sells contracts for fresh, organic, kid-friendly meals to schools and daycare centers, is consolidating the operations from two separate buildings into the new facility.

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