Junction City Caramel Corn Maker Plans to Add 150 New Jobs

In less than a decade, Cosmos Creations, a Junction City caramel corn maker, went from a local favorite to a fast growing employer in this small Willamette Valley community. Then, in mid-2014, it announced plans to more than triple its workforce from 55 employees to more than 200 as it expands into a new, $14 million manufacturing facility by then end of 2014.

The latest expansion plans came after Business Oregon backed the food processing company with four different loans or loan guarantees over a two-year period. Just prior to the company's announcement of its latest expansion plans, in June 2014, Business Oregon provided the company a loan guarantee on a working capital loan through the Credit Enhancement Fund (CEF).

In addition, in late 2013, Business Oregon provided the company an loan for equipment from the Oregon Business Development Fund (OBDF) in conjunction with a guarantee on a working capital loan to the company through CEF. The financial backing from the state was expected to help the company more than double its workforce from 37 full-time employees to an estimated 80 within three years.

In January 2012, Business Oregon also backed the company with a CEF loan guarantee. In total, Business Oregon has provided loans or loan guarantee worth a total of more than $1.5 million.

Cosmos Creations started as Cosmos Caramel Corn in 2004 in the small kitchen of a culinary artist. After it became a local sensation, the company expanded from the kitchen to a 5,000-square-foot facility that produced more than a dozen varieties of the unique caramel treat. Cosmos gained distribution across the state of Oregon and eventually developed a loyal following by attending many home shows and other events, and providing samples to attendees.

Cosmos produces and sells a gourmet, oven-baked corn that has no husks, shells or kernels. It is gluten free, trans-fat free and preservative free. The company makes a wide variety of flavors and sizes that are sold in its retail store and on-line.

Business Oregon's OBDF loan to the company was funded with State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) funds from the U.S. Treasury. Business Oregon received $16.5 million in SSBCI funds in 2011. The funds are disbursed through Business Oregon's existing finance tools.

In July 2011, Cosmos was purchased by John Strasheim and DeWayne Tiller, operating as the 4 Him Food Group. Tiller was introduced to Cosmos in 2006 at a trade show in Las Vegas. At the time, Tiller did not even realize the company was located only five miles from his own home in Oregon.