(The planned site of the new Wild Mike’s Ultimate Pizza headquarters | Photo courtesy of Redmond Economic Development Inc.)
Large-scale Move Would Bring More than 100 Jobs & $40 Million in New Investment into Region
Wild Mike’s Ultimate Pizza, a third-generation frozen pizza manufacturer operating in the Portland Metro area, is planning a full relocation of all its operations and corporate headquarters to Redmond. The move comes after a year of partnership conversations between Wild Mike’s — a dba of SA Piazza & Associates, LLC — and the City of Redmond and Redmond Economic Development Inc. (REDI).
The Redmond City Council will hear plans for the relocation during its meeting tonight (Tuesday, March 9). The company’s plan is to purchase the 46-acre parcel located at NE 9th Street and Antler Avenue and invest approximately $40 million to build a new facility of up to 270,000 square feet that will eventually employ 114 people. “This is a great example of a public-private partnership to encourage economic development projects in the Redmond community,” says Jon Stark, senior director of REDI. “The company was looking at multiple locations both in and out of state, and selected Redmond due to land availability, staff responsiveness, access to the Long-Term Rural Enterprise Zone program and the quality of life that Central Oregon has to offer.”
Wild Mike’s specializes in high-quality pizza with fresh ingredients, and distributes products to school districts and grocery retailers across 46 states. The company has a significant growth trajectory, requiring a larger, consolidated and more efficient production facility in a cost-effective location. “I was born and raised here, our business is growing and we’ve outgrown Clackamas, so we were looking to expand,” says Wild Mike’s Ultimate Pizza President and CEO Steve Piazza. “We needed a lot of property to do that, and we needed a lot of help in doing that. We are competing against gigantic companies, but we are small and family-run.” Piazza says his family has vacationed in Central Oregon for decades, and they saw the 46 acres in Redmond while visiting the area. “At the end of the day, I visit Central Oregon almost every weekend. I golf there, boat there and had a place in Sunriver; we know the area well. I’ve been going over there for 55 years.”
In considering the move to Central Oregon, Piazza says he and his team did some research, and were surprised and pleased to learn that the that costs of shipping and freight are no more expensive going in and out of Redmond than they are in Portland. Piazza and his team also asked their associates how they felt about moving to Central Oregon, and he says 80 percent responded favorably. “Some of our previous employees even called and said that if we moved to the Bend area, they’d come back,” he says with a laugh. “This move is not a negative; it might even be a recruiting tool.”
“Wild Mike’s Ultimate Pizza enhances the strong constellation of Redmond’s manufacturing and distribution sectors,” says Redmond Mayor George Endicott. “They are a powerhouse, and fit in nicely with the existing lineup such as Nosler, PCC Schlosser, Medline, Eberhard’s, McConnel Labs, FuelSafe, BasX and others.” When the facility is completed, Piazza says there will likely be as many as 300-400 employees. “There will be a four-story office, bakery and a touring facility like at Tillamook Cheese,” he says. “It will be a destination. We will eventually have our own trucking company to haul our products as well.” He adds, “The City’s job incentive program will help us realize our ambition of becoming one of America’s largest pizza manufacturers, without having to the leave the state where my family was born and raised. We are excited to build this dream in Redmond and hire hundreds of new associates to join our team.”
As part of the recruitment, Wild Mike’s is seeking a 15-year tax exemption on the value of the improvements (taxes on the land are not exempted). To receive a 15-year exemption, eligible projects must create a minimum of 50 jobs within three years of occupancy at a compensation rate of 150 percent of the county wage average, and invest at least $12.5 million dollars — which this project exceeds. The Enterprise Zone program is a locally sponsored, statutorily governed program that has been in existence in Redmond since 1988. However, this is the first project eligible to receive the Long Term Rural 15-year tax abatement. “We are excited. The pay range of 150 percent of the going rate doesn’t bother us,” says Piazza. “We like it. That’s what we’ve tried to build our whole lives. It’s about the team, not one person.”
Recognizing the length of the exemption, Wild Mike’s has also agreed to pay an annual Community Investment Fee (CIF) equal to $618 per full-time-equivalent job, adjusted annually starting January 1, 2022. The CIF is expected to generate approximately $70,000 per year.
City staff is recommending to City Council that the CIF be directed toward public safety. Keeping public safety services (officers per thousand) at pace with population growth has been an identified goal for City Council and staff for many years. With the estimated cost to the General Fund for each new officer at around $144,000 (salary, benefits, equipment), the ability to offset this through the CIF would free up an equal amount of General Fund dollars for other eligible services and investments.
The Long-Term Rural Enterprise Zone agreement for Wild Mike’s will be presented to Redmond City Council for approval. Following council approval, it then needs to be approved by the Deschutes Board of County Commissioners and the City of Sisters (which are also co-sponsors of the zone).
Stark says the goal for completion of the new Wild Mike’s facility is late 2022 or early 2023. “We hope construction can begin as soon as permits are applied. As with any project, especially one of this magnitude, there will be hurdles, but the Redmond team (the City of Redmond and REDI) is well-versed at helping companies navigate them,” he says. So far, there haven’t been any delays or challenges, Stark says, but the land is undeveloped, which requires significant site, infrastructure and road improvements typical with larger publicly owned undeveloped parcels.
“This is a substantial project for Redmond,” says Stark. “These larger projects don’t happen in our region on a regular basis. Given Redmond’s significant inventory of 50-plus-acre industrial parcels, we hope the project will help set the stage for other larger companies to consider Redmond, and we are thrilled that Wild Mike’s selected our community for their investment.”