By JOSH NEWTON
Members of the Tahlequah Industrial Authority approved an agreement Wednesday night that will allow Backwoods Food Manufacturing to build a new facility in the city’s industrial park.
TIA Trustee David Moore told others on the board the agreement calls for a 25-year lease, with the first five years requiring a $9,600 annual payment. By year 25, Backwoods should be paying $16,800 per year.
Trustees also agreed to waive the ground-lease payments for five years as an incentive for Backwoods – currently doing business north of Tahlequah’s city limits – to move to the industrial park, if it does so within 18 months.
Tahlequah city councilors will also consider waiving about $3,000 in building permit fees, and officials with Tahlequah Public Works Authority are working with the owners to reduce fees associated with utility installation.
Moore said BFM is owned and operated by Mike and Danielle Coursey, who hope they can begin construction in January with an estimated completion on their new facility of 12 to 14 months.
Chairman Mark Gish was given approval to finalize a contract containing specific terms outlined during Wednesday evening’s meeting.
The new BFM site is set for construction at the southeast corner of Main Parkway and Airport Road on a parcel of land about three acres in size. The facility is expected to be 29,100 square feet, with an estimated cost of construction at $1.8 million, plus an additional $650,000 in new equipment.
Backwoods now employs 11 and will expand to 20 employees upon completion of the new facility, Moore said.
“I am looking forward to this project, and I believe this expansion will satisfy the needs of our customers for many years to come,” said Mike Coursey.
Indian Capital Technology Center, the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, and the Cherokee Nation assisted the city, TIA, and TPWA during discussion of the project.
According to TIA members, Backwoods Food started in 1998 with its own product line, and gradually grew into one of Oklahoma’s leading co-packers, specializing in manufacturing almost 400 different formulas of barbecue sauce, salsa, pickles, spice blends, and other food products for more than 50 companies. Products are sold in grocery stores across the U.S. and in several other countries, like Germany and Norway.
Sales for 2012 are expected to approach $1 million, with projected annual sales of $5 million within five years.
“This local company has proved itself to be successful in the food-packaging business and is a leader among like companies in the state,” said Gish.
“They will be a valued partner in our park.”