Nonprofit helps fund Face Rock Creamery

By: Amy Moss Strong - Dec 23, 2012
Source: The World
Craft3's investment in Face Rock Creamery in Bandon, announced last month, was the final piece of financing needed to complete the construction of the new cheese factory.

Craft3 is a nonprofit lender that specializes in lending to Pacific Northwest businesses unable to access financing from traditional sources.

Local developer Greg Drobot had assembled a team that included Joe Sinko, former owner of Bandon Cheese, and Joe's son Brad Sinko, one of the top artisanal cheese makers in the country. He was instrumental in the start up of Beecher's Cheese in Seattle and a satellite Beecher's Cheese in New York City. 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.

But Craft3 is providing Drobot with loans for the construction of the cheese factory and retail store and to purchase production and retail equipment. Drobot also received money from the Port of Bandon's Business Development fund administered through the Coos Curry Douglas Business Development Corp. and from Business Oregon, a business development fund based in Salem. In all, some $2 million is being invested into the project.

'These three funders are helping purchase construction and equipment, along with a significant amount of my own equity," Drobot said. 'If it wasn't for these investors, I wouldn't have been able to do this project. I'm glad those opportunities were there."

The 8,000-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, according to City Manager Matt Winkel.

'This is something that we have all been waiting for since Tillamook purchased, closed down, and then tore down our cheese factory, which was the No. 1 tourist attraction in the community," said Schamehorn. 'This is definitely a win-win for Bandon."

Construction is proceeding on the site, with the goal of an April or May opening. Craig Paulson and Bandon Concrete poured the foundation and the steel structural supports are being put into place. Avery Plumbing also has been hired.

Meanwhile, Drobot and Brad Sinko have been making cheese for Face Rock Creamery in a leased area of the Rogue Creamery.

'We will be making cheese once a month in Central Point until March so we will have cheese on the shelves when we open," Drobot said. 'After that, we'll move all our inventory into the new factory."

For updates on construction, visit www.facerockcreamery.com.