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MEDFORD, OR-Amy’s Kitchen officials this week announced plans to expand their Santa Rosa, CA-based operation into Southern Oregon with a manufacturing and distribution facility here that could eventually employ 700 workers. The producer of prepared natural and organic meals says it will provide more detail when it closes on its land purchase later this month.Amy’s officials say the company has grown nearly 25% this year and will post annual sales in excess of $100 million. The growth is forcing the expansion sooner than originally anticipated. The new facility in Medford, when built, will initially create about 200 new jobs for the area and, if it sustains its growth rate, could grow to 700 within five years.Oregon Economic and Community Development Department officials have been working with Amy’s Kitchen since April, 2003. As with Amy’s, the department is holding details of its negotiations and incentives confidential until the company closes on its land acquisition.Despite complaints about the business climate in Multnomah County and the City of Portland, a report by the Tax Foundation in Washington D.C. released this week rated Oregon one of the nation’s more business-friendly states. Oregon ranked 10th best in the nation for a combination of factors, including lack of a sales tax, low “sales and gross receipts” taxes, a beneficial corporate income tax structure, and low unemployment insurance levels. According to the 2003 Cost of Doing Business Report by the North American Retail Dealers Association, Oregon’s cost of energy is lower than 40 other states.Amy’s specifically mentioned Oregon’s relatively low workers’ compensation insurance rates as a significant factor in its decision to expand in the state. In October, Gov. Ted Kulongoski announced that the average “pure” premium rate for Oregon workers’ compensation insurance will remain flat in 2005, marking three years of stable rates after twelve consecutive years of rate reductions.

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