Possible Golden Temple sale worries local leaders

by Gursant Singh ⌂ @, Yuba City California USA, Monday, February 22, 2010, 06:29 (4560 days ago) @ Gursant Singh

Possible Golden Temple sale worries local leaders
By Tim Christie

The Register-Guard

Appeared in print: Saturday, Feb 20, 2010

Business, civic and nonprofit leaders reacted with concern Friday to news that Golden Temple is trying to sell its cereal business.

The Eugene food processor, which employs about 330 people in Eugene and Springfield and 100 in Europe, confirmed Thursday that it was in discussions to sell its cereal business, but that it plans to keep its tea business.

“Of course I think that is terrible news,” Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy said. “We want Golden Temple to remain here.”

The business has been a “very good partner” in the community, a key player in the local natural foods industry and an important contributor to the economy, she said.

“We hope if they do sell and someone purchases it, it would be someone local so it would remain in our community and in our economy,” she said.

The company’s administrative offices and cereal plant are located at 2545 Prairie Road in Eugene. It has a tea packing facility in the Gateway area in Springfield.

Jack Roberts, executive director of Lane Metro Partnership, an economic development agency, said if Golden Temple does sell its cereal business, his group would do everything in its power to convince the new owners to keep it in Eugene.

“We’re as eager as anyone else to see what happens and to make sure whatever happens, they stay here,” he said.

Golden Temple has close business relationships with two other local food processors, GloryBee Foods and Grain Millers Inc., he said, and it has a good work force.

“There’s no reason why anyone purchasing it would want to change that.”

Golden Temple has been a major supporter of FOOD for Lane County, donating cereal for at least the last dozen years, said Dawn Marie Woodward, spokeswoman for the Eugene food bank.

“We certainly hope if it was sold, the new owners would want to keep it here and would want to continue donating,” she said.

In the fiscal year ending in 2008, Golden Temple donated 141,000 pounds of cereal. In the 2009 fiscal year, the company donated 192,000 pounds. In the first six months of the current fiscal year, Golden Temple has delivered 54,000 pounds of cereal to FOOD for Lane County.

“Golden Temple has been an outstanding partner with us and we would hate to lose that partnership,” Woodward said.

Terry McDonald, executive director of St. Vincent de Paul of Lane County, said there’s always a risk when homegrown companies get big enough to catch the attention of larger firms.

“This is one of those locally grown companies that has created a real economic value to our community that, for better or for worse and for reasons that are still unclear, may end up not being locally owned anymore,” he said.

Emerald Valley Kitchen, Chet’s Famous Foods, even Nike, are among the companies that started here before moving elsewhere.

“A successful business gets to a size and scope and becomes a target for a buyout, and the ownership ceases to be here and often the business ceases to be here,” McDonald said. “That’s a tragedy.”

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