Mt. Townsend Creamery has its field of dreams

By Patrick J. Sullivan, The Leader
Posted 8/30/16

Mt. Townsend Creamery, one of Port Townsend's homegrown business success stories, is positioned to become even more of a regional name.

The creamery's expansion plans are linked to the Howard …

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Mt. Townsend Creamery has its field of dreams

Posted

Mt. Townsend Creamery, one of Port Townsend's homegrown business success stories, is positioned to become even more of a regional name.

The creamery's expansion plans are linked to the Howard Street Corridor project, which is to provide highway access and utilities for commercial and industrial businesses of various sizes.

Ryan Trail, creamery cofounder and CEO, said a larger facility is critical to company success. Its artisan cheese production plateaued two years ago strictly due to space limits on production, packaging and storage. The business rents space in four buildings: two in Port Townsend and two nearby in Glen Cove, with no room to expand.

"We're maxed out on everything," Trail said. "We have more market for our cheese than we can fulfill."

Founded here in 2005, the creamery has become a regionally known, award-winning operation. Its cheese is made with milk from a single herd of cows on a family-owned farm in Clallam County. Matthew Day and Ryan Trail are its founders; Day lives in Oregon.

Five years ago, an effort began to build the creamery’s capacity. The business had an option to buy the Brown Dairy property at the Chimacum crossroads. County zoning, and the necessity for an estimated $1 million wastewater treatment facility, ended that choice, Trail said.

Expansion plans returned to the business's roots on West Sims Way in Port Townsend, where the city was promoting the Howard Street Corridor, which is next to the existing Port Townsend Business Park.

Under the name Cheesy Ventures, in 2014, the business acquired 2.56 acres on two parcels situated between Seventh and Eighth streets that adjoin the corridor. The property fronts both Howard Street and Discovery Road.

Trail said the land purchase was made possible by city's interim zoning allowing a planned unit development, which provided the small business with some flexibility.

The estimated $3 million construction project, now in the design phase (from 15,000 to 20,000 square feet), should be under construction in 2017, Trail said. It is to include a public tasting room.

The company currently has 18 jobs. A new facility promises not only more skilled-position jobs, but improved wages all around, Trail said. The workforce has become more stable, Trail noted, and "we're trying to create livable-wage jobs."

The shortage of workforce housing, however, is an unsolved issue.

"My employees have challenges finding rentals right now," Trail said of the housing situation, which city officials already have on the front burner as a pressing community concern.

The city's application process for state money to help with the Howard Street Corridor promoted Mt. Townsend Creamery as a local success story needing an infrastructure boost. The corridor project accesses the only industrial/commercial property of this size in the city or in Jefferson County to be fully served by utilities.

City officials consider the creamery as a "bird-in-hand investment" intended to serve as a catalyst, building momentum for more business expansion and development. It could be a cornerstone example of the specialty-craft identity city leaders imagine for the corridor.

That's OK with Trail.

"We want to be here," he said. "We want other businesses to succeed here, too."

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