Loan helps cheese factory bring jobs and tourism back to Bandon
Craft3 announced its investment in Face Rock Creamery in Bandon, Oregon. Craft3’s loan is the final piece of financing needed for the construction of Face Rock Creamery. The cheese factory will bring back a heritage industry along with local jobs and tourism dollars.
For 62 years, the Bandon Cheese Factory drew travelers to the small coastal town of Bandon. But just two years after buying it in 2000, a larger cheese maker closed and demolished the factory. The abandoned site was an eyesore and the community immediately began lobbying to bring a cheese factory back to Bandon.
“It was extremely sad.” Mayor Mary Schamehorn said. “People still today come in and say. ‘Where’s the cheese factory?’”
City leaders backed local developer Greg Drobot’s idea to open a new cheese factory to be called Face Rock Creamery. Together they drew on the extensive expertise of Joe Sinko, former owner of Bandon Cheese and long-time friend of Craft3.
The group approached Brad Sinko for help. In addition to being Joe’s son and third generation Bandon dairyman, Brad is one of the top artisanal cheese makers in the country. He was instrumental in the start up of Beecher’s Cheese in Seattle. Brad will be Face Rock’s head cheese maker and operations manager.
Drobot had the right team in place. But there were problems securing financing to make the project a reality. Start-up capital for rural businesses is hard to find.
“The banks are extremely difficult to deal with if you’re a startup, and unless you’re a business with a long track record of financials it is damn near impossible to get a loan,” Drobot said.
That is when he learned about Craft3, a non-profit lender. Craft3 specializes in lending to businesses unable to access financing from traditional sources.
Craft3 is providing Drobot with loans for the construction of the cheese factory and retail store, and to purchase production and retail equipment.
“We are excited to support Greg and his efforts to bring a cheese factory back to Bandon,” said Adam Zimmerman, Craft3 executive vice president. “The addition of Face Rock Creamery to the community will strengthen the economic resilience of the region.”
The 7,000-square-foot cheese factory will include a viewing gallery, a retail shop, and small restaurant. Face Rock Creamery will be the cornerstone of a tourist-stop redevelopment project to rejuvenate downtown Bandon.
“This is something that we have all been waiting for since Tillamook purchased, closed down, and then torn down our cheese factory, which was the No. 1 tourist attraction in the community,” said Mayor Mary Schamehorm. “This is definitely a win-win for Bandon.”