The new entity of Wildly Organic, formerly Wilderness Products, reached a new lease agreement with the City of Silver Bay with a lower rent amount at the regular city council meeting on Monday, March 16.
Originally the organic food company based in the Mary MacDonald Business Center approached the council with a proposal that included a complete rent abatement of roughly $71,000 for the rest of 2020.
The new agreement instead proposes the company pay $2,000 a month, which would cover the utility and operating costs for the company to use the space. The deal also comes with a caveat that the company agrees to share financial information with the city periodically and will begin to pay full rent once it is financially viable.
Last time the company approached the council, it was in the midst of a liquidation sale with the National Bank of Commerce. Wilderness Products owner Chris Toal requested the abatement on behalf of a group of investors who were poised to invest in the company and buy back its assets from the National Bank of Commerce. The bank was set to foreclose on the company. The investments would have been part of a settlement with the bank.
The deal with the investors and the bank was settled on March 1 and Toal said the company has continued to operate since then. One of the investors, Kim Jenkins, and several employees from the company attended the meeting with Toal. Jenkins addressed the council and assured them the company has every intention of staying in Silver Bay and has no plans to lay off staff.
"The people here are the greatest asset this company has," Jenkins said. "I saw that the moment we walked through the space. They're what will make this a viable business."
The Cloquet-based investor said he believes it will take the company about a year to get back on its feet.
"We wouldn’t have invested if we didn’t think it had the fundamentals going forward," Jenkins said. "It's been undercapitalized. It's going to take a significant cash investment to make it profitable. We're just asking the city to help partner with us in this."
After little discussion about the specifics, the council voted unanimously to grant the lease agreement.