A new commercial district in Post Falls holds promise as a new manufacturing site for F.O. Berg Company, a firm with a 122-year history in Spokane.
The tent and fabric company has been busy filling military and disaster relief orders and needs more space to expand, said part-owner Andy Barrett.
With about 100 employees and work piling up, Post Falls is an alluring site for expansion or perhaps relocation, Barrett said.
The Post Falls City Council recently approved the creation of an Urban Renewal District along Seltice Way. Barrett and business partner Craig Dolsby own property in the area and said they are taking a close look at either expanding or relocating, perhaps as early as the first part of next year.
The district, said Post Falls Mayor Clay Larkin, will pay for about $6.3 million worth of infrastructure, which will be repaid with tax money generated within the district. It’s a useful development tool designed to encourage commercial and industrial growth.
While the incentives are interesting, Barrett said Post Falls’ designation as a federal HUBZone was a bigger attraction. Such “historically underutilized business zones” were created during the Clinton administration to give federal contract preference to small companies that conduct business in areas deemed disadvantaged.
Because F.O. Berg relies heavily on federal contracts, setting up shop in Post Falls would give the company a leg up on earning military and other federal agency work. Workers make tents and huge collapsible water bladders that are useful in relief camps such as those set up to aid earthquake victims in Pakistan.
F.O. Berg and two sister companies now operate in 30,000 square feet of space along Euclid Avenue in Spokane Valley. Barrett said no decisions have yet been made about the company’s future location.
The firm was started along Howard Street in Spokane in 1883, six years before Washington statehood. After the devastating fire of 1889, the company made the tents that formed the Tent City housing many of Spokane’s displaced businesses, according to the company’s Web site.
The family of Fredrick Oliver Berg sold the company to Spokane Tent & Awning in 1965.
Barrett and Dolsby purchased shares of the company in the 1990s before taking sole ownership five years ago.
The company claims to be one of the oldest continually run businesses in the state of Washington.
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