Junction City caramel corn maker gets $85K grant

JUNCTION CITY, Ore.-- A Junction City caramel corn maker just got a sweet deal to expand operations in the form of a Lane County economic grant.

Cosmos Creations C.E.O. John Strasheim can't seem to make his goodies fast enough.

"That's actually the new machine. We've got it sitting up here but it isn't hooked up yet," explains Strasheim to Lane county Commissioners Sid Leiken and Jay Bozievich, who toured their Junction City facility Friday.

He showed officials a new extruder machine, partially paid for by a $85,000 Lane County incentive grant award made up of state video lottery proceeds.

Cosmos Creations will now be able to boost production 50 percent. Strasheim says they can also add to their staff of 65 employees.

"It allows us to employ a few more people as well in the meantime, until we can get the new facility going," says Strasheim.

The higher production is needed to fill orders and reach a sales goal of $12 million this year. Local officials could not be happier.

"We're so excited to have Cosmos grow like this. It means more jobs for our city--revenue for our city," said Junction City's city councilor Karen Leach.

The new warehouse Strasheim is talking about will go next door to the Country Coach plant. It will be a $3.3 million investment in phase one and it means up to 150 new jobs in the next few years.

"This is part of our local food production cluster we have here in Lane County. They trade nationally and internationally," says West Lane Commissioner Jay Bozievich.

Commissioners believe this $85,000 investment will nourish the Lane County economy for years to come.

"We know the investment we are giving to this gentleman here and his company--we know it's going to create great opportunities for citizens throughout Lane County," adds Commissioner Sid Leiken of Springfield.

The Cosmos warehouse is on a very fast track. Strasheim wants to begin construction by October 1 and have it open by early next year.