Rogue Valley Microdevices finds room to expand
It took some doing and quick action from several quarters, but Rogue Valley Microdevices is poised to expand locally.
Owners Jessica Gomez and Patrick Kayatta had all but given up on finding a suitable place in Southern Oregon. Competitive demands meant more space was needed, and their chip-making business requires lots of power.
"We were really hoping to find an existing building," said Gomez, the company's CEO and president. "We thought it would be the most cost effective."
But they discovered finding an appropriate location near hotels, away from railroad track vibrations and with high ceilings proved challenging. Months turned to years without results.
"We actually had pretty much given up and had begun light due diligence for (relocation to) Boulder, Colorado," Gomez said. "We started making trips and were ready for proposals from their economic development people; they had a lot of available space."
They were two weeks from pulling the plug and moving on.
"We're not going to be young forever," she said. "We've got to get this done within a reasonable time."
Commercial real estate agent Scott King and land-use planner Jay Harland stepped up and poured over the region trying to find a site for the company.
"They went through every potential property, zoned properly or not, trying to figure out if anything was available," she said.
While they were looking, a 2.25-acre parcel next to the Super 8 hotel on Biddle Road became available.
"There aren't nearly enough choices in the marketplace right now," said Harland, a partner at CSA Planning in Medford. "It's a combination of regulatory constraint and other factors related to specific businesses."
The parcel between Super 8 and land owned by Les Schwab Tire Centers needed a zone change, a zone amendment, site approval and a conditional use permit, Central Point Development Director Tom Humphrey said. City Council is scheduled to make its determination on the comprehensive plan amendment redesignating land use and zoning tonight.
"The zoning currently exists for the adjacent Les Schwab property," Humphrey said. "It's just a matter of expanding a commercial designation that's already there."
Rogue Valley Microdevices was founded in 2003 and long ago hit capacity at its 13,000-square-foot site on Automation Way.
The proposed 42,000-square-foot plant would more than triple the present space, providing room to double the 25-person staff.
Gomez said Rogue Valley Microdevices routinely loses customers whose needs have outgrown the manufacturer's capacity.
"It gets to the point where we're not able to support their needs, and they leave after a period of time," Gomez said. "It's a bit frustrating for us that we don't have the space to accommodate them."
If the deal goes through, the company's present 3,000-square-foot clean room will be moved to the new location, and a modernized 8,500-square-foot clean room will support expanded operations, Gomez said.
"Right now we have to rearrange previous architecture every time we put something new in place," she said. "It takes time and shuts down production."
If contingencies are cleared, Gomez anticipates, the new site would be ready in 18 to 24 months.
"It's going to be a really big challenge and probably include things we haven't considered yet," she said. "On the other side of that, if we want to grow and build a company that's going to be around a long time, we've got to make sure we can move forward."
— Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31